Discharging older patients from hospital, Alzheimer’s Society comment

The health and social care system’s management of discharging older patients from hospital does not represent value for money, according to the National Audit Office in a report launched today.

The spending watchdog estimates that the gross annual cost to the NHS of treating older patients in hospital who no longer need to receive acute clinical care is in the region of £820 million, putting additional and avoidable pressure on the financial sustainability of the NHS and local government. Longer stays in hospital can have a negative impact on older patients’ health as they quickly lose mobility and the ability to do everyday tasks.

The report echoes the findings of the Alzheimer’s Society Fix Dementia Care: Hospitalscampaign which highlighted poor care for people with dementia in hospitals and poor practice in the discharging of patients.

George McNamara, Head of Policy at Alzheimer’s Society said:

‘The fact that so-called ‘bed-blocking’ in hospitals has risen by a third in two years is unacceptable – and comes at a huge human and financial cost.

‘Our Fix Dementia Care campaign found that substandard care and poor discharge processes can have devastating, life-changing consequences for people with dementia, who occupy a quarter of hospital beds. Too many are falling while in hospital, being discharged at night or being marooned in hospital despite the completion of their medical treatment, affecting whether they stand any chance of returning to their own home or not.

‘Not only is this a waste of taxpayers’ money, but also further evidence of a health and social care system that is not joined-up or adequately funded to ensure the best possible care for people with dementia. It is vital that we get this right for people affected by the condition.’