MP warns of looming winter NHS crisis amid spiralling ‘bed blocking’ figures

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A looming winter crisis awaits unless local NHS trusts get spiralling ‘bed blocking’ figures under control, an MP has warned.

Dewsbury MP Paula Sherriff, a member of the Health Select Committee, believes if urgent action is not taken the rising cost of the delayed transfer of patients who are fit enough to leave will result in crisis.

Her comments come as we reveal the extent of bed blocking in Leeds. County-wide, the number of beds taken up by people awaiting transfer to other facilities or further assessments was more than 13,000 in July alone.

Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust (LTH) contributed 2,682 to that figure while trusts in York, Calderdale, Mid Yorkshire and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (STH) recorded over 1,000 each.

The financial cost of July’s delayed days in Yorkshire was at least £2.5m, based on LTH’s estimated cost of an excess bed day at £195, but is likely to have a much higher toll as the Department of Health say an average bed costs £275 per day.

Ms Sherriff said: “This could have a huge knock-on effect – I’m quite worried about winter pressures. We know we are already using significant numbers of agency nurses, we don’t have the continuity among staff and junior doctors are balloting about strike action. From speaking to people in the service I am told morale in the NHS has genuinely never ever been lower. This winter could be a very testing time – the Government needs to act.”

LTH, STH and York Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust have said they are focusing their efforts on safely reducing the numbers of patients whose discharge is delayed.

Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust and Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust were unavailable for comment.