16 January 2019

After years of rising delays, NHS figures released this week show that social care bed-blocking in Northamptonshire has dramatically reduced to the lowest levels since July 2016. ​

The number of patients experiencing a delay in leaving hospital has fallen by nearly 50%, following action by Northamptonshire County Council and local health partners to reduce the number of hold-ups.
In November, the number of days that patients were held due to a delayed transfer of care (DTOC) was 808, 49% lower than October (1,585) and 48% lower than November 2017 (1,544).

The reduction - equivalent to two years less of waiting time - follows steps taken to reduce lengthy delays experienced by patients at Northampton General Hospital and Kettering General Hospital.

Anna Earnshaw, county council director of adult social care said:


“We’re delighted by this good news for three reasons: it shows how we’re working with health partners for the good of patients, it’s a testament to our hard-working staff who are passionate about improving delays and most of all, it’s good news for local people - as we know to leave hospital as soon as possible improves long-term outcomes and recovery.”

A delayed transfer of care - known as bed-blocking - occurs when a patient remains in a bed after being officially declared medically fit for discharge by both a doctor and a multidisciplinary team.

Cllr Sandra Naden-Horley, county council cabinet member for adult social care, said:


“Patients experiencing delays are now at the lowest levels since July 2016 - and these results show a significant reduction on all counts.

“Delays are not only distressing for the patients and their families, but they can also be risky. For older people, staying in a hospital bed for too long can lead to loss of muscle tone and a number of adverse effects. For hospitals, high numbers of DTOCs can have a significant impact on their ability to run smoothly.

“Our hospitals are still facing substantial pressures from high admissions, especially in the over 65s. However, these reductions show we’re moving record numbers of patients out of hospital and continue to provide additional support when they need it.”