The Care Sector is Ready, Willing and Able to Assist the NHS

Is the NHS block-booking care home beds to speed up hospital discharge the right approach?

“It’s the right one, but not executed in the right way,” Tony Stein tells BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

Healthcare Management Solutions CEO Tony Stein appeared on the flagship Radio 4 show to discuss the NHS’s proposal to buy thousands of extra beds in care homes to free up hospital places.

The proposal is part of a £250 million package which includes £200 million to buy beds in care homes and other settings and £50 million to upgrade existing hospital facilities.

During the interview, Mr Stein went on to say: “This should have been something that was in the planning and being executed on an ongoing basis. So that we didn’t have this crisis where they are having to push people out in huge numbers in a very short space of time.”

The System Grinds to a Halt

In a separate interview with LBC, Tony Stein explained the complexities of the existing funding model for discharging hospital patients into care settings.

“The social care sector is ready, willing and able to manage some of the pressure the NHS is currently facing. However, the budget is split between health and social care and that causes major issues.

“So the problems we have today because of  RSV, flu, Covid, and the usual pressures in hospitals, we have people who are medically fit for discharge who are waiting to go into care homes. Local authorities are responsible for funding their stay in a care home, but the local authorities, most of them, are on the brink of financial failure because of the pressures they’re under. As a consequence of that, they don’t rush to take people out of hospital settings. So then you end up with A&Es that can’t discharge patients onto wards because wards are bed-blocked and you end up with ambulances parked outside A&E and the whole thing grinds to a halt when we have particular pressures as we do now in the winter. So, until the issue of funding gets resolved, it will never get fixed.”

Mr Stein argues that the NHS putting forward new funding to discharge hospital patients into care homes is a “sticking plaster solution” to a long-term funding problem, but that it is at least a solution to the current unmet need for care.

During the interview, the discussion moves onto how the financial gap in socially funded care puts pressure on care sector pay and, as a result, makes it difficult to recruit and retain staff in the sector.

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