More than a hundred bed days a month lost to blocking at the South Tyneside Trust

NHS England figures have revealed the rate of "bed blocking" at health trusts.
NHS England figures have revealed the rate of "bed blocking" at health trusts.

Patients block three beds a day at the South Tyneside Trust, new figures show.

In October, patients at South Tyneside District Hospital spent a total of 105 days waiting to be discharged or transferred to a different care facility.

South Tyneside District Hospital

South Tyneside District Hospital

The NHS England figures show that half of these delays were caused by problems with the NHS - like waiting for a bed to open up in a rehabilitation centre or mental health hospital - and half were caused by problems with social care - such as delays in setting up community care or special equipment at home.

The figure for the same period at neighbouring City Hospitals Sunderland worked out at five beds a day being blocked.

Health bosses say that both areas “consistently perform among the best in the NHS” for making sure patients get home as soon as possible.

The figures do not include delays in transferring a patient between wards, or from one acute hospital to another.

Coun Tracey Dixon.

Coun Tracey Dixon.

Dr Sean Fenwick, director of operations at South Tyneside and City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trusts said: “In both South Tyneside and Sunderland we consistently perform amongst the best in the NHS for making sure patients get safely home as soon as possible after a stay in hospital.

“We have very strong relationships with colleagues in social care, mental health and other parts of the local health care system to make sure the needs of our patients, and their carers, can be met at the right time and in the right care setting as we know people generally recover much better in the comfort of their own home.”

He added: “It is important to understand that there can often be many complex reasons why patients sometimes stay in hospital longer than necessary, including patient or family choice, and our collective priority is always to make sure each and every person receives safe, timely and effective care which delivers the best possible outcomes.

“This truly integrated approach involves teams from different organisations working together for the benefit of patients.”

Dr Sean Fenwick

Dr Sean Fenwick

Coun Tracey Dixon, lead member for independence and wellbeing at South Tyneside Council, said: “South Tyneside is one of the best performing areas for getting patients home as soon as possible after a stay in hospital.

“This is despite the national pressures faced by the NHS across the country and is directly attributable to the close working relationship between the Council, the Trust and other health and care partners.

“We will continue to work together to ensure delayed transfers of care are kept to a minimum for all our residents.”

Delayed transfers of care have the greatest impact on elderly patients. According to the NHS, for a person over 80 a hospital stay of more than 10 days can lead to 10 years of muscle ageing.

Across England, an average of 4,737 beds a day were blocked in October, representing roughly 4.3% of all occupied beds.

The Government’s target is 3.5%.

This resulted in a total of 146,861 delayed days, equivalent to just over 400 years of lost time.

A spokesperson for the NHS said: “A growing proportion of people are getting same day emergency care which prevents the need for an overnight stay.

“Hospitals also have freed up an additional 742 beds, by working closely with councils to help more people return home with the right care in place.”