Measures to cut NHS 'bed-blocking' hailed a success

Steps to tackle NHS bed-blocking have led to a substantial reduction in delayed discharges, according to government statistics.

Figures released today show that the number of delayed discharges has fallen since the system was introduced - down from 7,065 in September 2001 to 2,895 in March 2004.

Health Secretary John Reid said that the 4,000 beds that have been freed up since the 'Cash for Change' programme was introduced in 2001 was equivalent to adding eight extra hospitals to the NHS. The scheme provided £300 million to local councils to ensure that people leaving hospital would get the care they needed.

New rules introduced in January now mean that local authorities must reimburse the NHS when a lack of services or assessments for patients means they cannot be discharged from hospital.

John Reid said that freeing up hospital beds helped to "speed up treatment for those who need it".

"And there's another bonus - this progress means 4,000 people who are well enough to leave hospital are in safe surroundings, whether in their own homes with the extra support they need, in extra care units or in a care home," he said.

He also paid tribute to social services staff and the NHS for working together to ensure extra investment delivers real improvements.


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