The Registered Nursing Home Association has responded to calls for greater collaboration between the NHS and care providers by demanding money from central government so that local authorities can purchase more care home places.
The association believes it can solve the bed-blocking problem facing NHS hospitals if money followed elderly relatives into the independent care home sector. Keeping them in hospitals is inefficient, undesirable and far more expensive, it suggests.
RNHA chief executive officer Frank Ursell welcomed a report by Lord Carter, which encourages NHS trusts to find rapid local solutions to the problem of delayed transfers, which currently sees an estimated 8,500 patients a day stuck in hospital beds simply because there is nowhere suitable for them to be discharged to.
“This problem has been with us for many years, but it’s getting worse because social care funding has been slashed and there just isn’t the money in the system to pay for the care home places so desperately needed,” said Mr Ursell.
“Local authorities in parts of the country have been cutting the amounts they pay to care homes, many of which have gone out of business or are seriously thinking of doing so. At best, local authorities have frozen the rates they pay for publicly funded placements in care homes, which is another form of cut because it fails to compensate the homes for the rising costs of staff and other overheads,” he added.