Opportunities for care providers lie in NHS bed crisis

NHS hospital

A chronic shortage of NHS hospital beds has reached an all-time high, senior surgeons have warned, but care providers could have a role in alleviation KPMG has said.

A lack of social care is meaning more elderly people are remaining in hospital unnecessarily, with 89% of hospital beds being occupied over night, according to NHS England.

Ian Eardley, vice president of the Royal College of Surgeons, told The Times: “We are now seeing increasing numbers of frail, older patients in hospital because they have nowhere else to go. The lack of additional money for social care and the NHS is only going to make this even harder.”

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Speaking at the recent Care England conference, KPMG director Steven Bunn noted how there are significant benefits to be had in the local authority market if providers are ready and present for when the NHS looks to outsource more care.

He said: “If you can be that last man standing and be the person that’s there when the supply is taken out and if you’ve got bargaining power with the local authority it’s a good place to be.”

Bunn noted that although lots of providers are targeting the private pay market it’s important to be realistic in terms of their product.

“A lot of people are probably doing it because they think it’s the right thing and they know there’re higher fees. But you have to have an honest assessment.  The NHS and the issues it’s facing, there has to be a role for care home providers – it’s just a no brainer.”

The KPMG director stressed the increasing role care homes are likely to have as pressure on NHS beds mounts.

“People are slowly realising that, and making sure you’re in a position to do that and your local area is very important. It won’t be a panacea; it’s very much getting a relationship with Trusts and talking with them about where they can save money.”

He concluded: “The King’s Fund estimated that the NHS spends over £800m a year looking after elderly people in hospitals that shouldn’t be there – so it gives you an idea of the opportunity that’s there.”

The government has not pledged more funding for health and social care in the Autumn Statement and with planned cuts of 535 beds in Derbyshire, 400 in both Devon and Yorkshire and a third of beds in Bristol, the lack of hospital beds is set to increase.

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