Care homes could solve the NHS winter beds shortage says Care England

Professor Martin Green.

Vulnerable elderly people in Britain are sleeping in hospital corridors this winter because the NHS and politicians will not engage properly with the care home sector.

The biggest contributor to over-crowding in hospitals is elderly patients being held there because they are at too much risk to go back to their own homes, but Care England says the independent care home sector could accommodate three-quarters of them if there was a proper cooperation between them.

Care England’s chief executive, Professor Martin Green, says that successive governments have advocated closer cooperation between the care sector and the NHS, but none has achieved it.

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“One of the sad things about the past 10 years is that we have had rhetoric emanating from different governments about integration, but we have not seen anything happening in practice. For example, we find ourselves at the moment with the NHS saying it is facing a winter pressure crisis, but it refuses to engage with the independent care sector that could solve a lot of those problems,” says Professor Green in an interview with Care Home Professional.

“We have been speaking to the Department of Health year after year about how we can help, and get no response. Now we get another winter pressure problem and the secretary of state for health rewards their bad behaviour with another £900 million. So there is an incentive in the system to continue this bad behaviour,” he adds.

“The challenge of winter pressure at hospitals is always about how to deal with elderly people who have finished their medical intervention; where do they go? If you look at the number of care home beds available, that could have solved about three-quarters of the problem, but the system, despite having year-on-year discussions with people like us, just does not engage with the independent sector. They [the NHS] just see themselves as the only show in town, and they are not.”

Read the full interview with Professor Martin Green in the February edition of Care Home Professional. Click here to subscribe. Subscriptions are free to owners and operations directors of care homes and care home groups.

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