New analysis shows that in parts of England more than nine out of 10 people remain stranded in hospital beds despite being eligible to leave.
Levels are particularly high in the North West regions where up to 95% of patients in some trusts are still in bed and no longer need to be there.
According to the PA news agency’s analysis of NHS data, an average of 22,586 people were ready to leave hospital per day across England last week, with 9,228 (41%) discharged and 13,358 (59%) staying in bed.
There are sharp regional differences across the country; Half of patients in London and east England are discharged when ready, compared to only 28% in northwest England and 35% in southwest England.
The figure was 39% for southeast England, 43% for northeast England/Yorkshire and 44% for the Midlands.
The trusts with the lowest liquidation rate are all in the North West.
Southport & Ormskirk Trust last week an average of 71 patients were eligible to leave the hospital per day, of whom 67 (95%) remained in their beds – with a discharge rate of just 5%.
Liverpool University Hospitals, Stockport Foundation Trust and Warrington & Halton Teaching Hospitals all had only 6% discharge, while the Northern Care Alliance in Greater Manchester had 9%.
With the exception of northwest England, trusts with very low discharge rates for healthy patients last week included Ashford & St Peter’s Hospitals in Surrey (10%); Worcestershire Acute Hospitals (11%); Doncaster & Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals (13%); Frimley Health Trust (14%), which operates in several counties in southern England; and Isle of Wight (16%).
Hospitals face a growing struggle to discharge people who are well enough to leave, often with insufficient support from local social care providers.
Delays in emptying beds have a knock-on effect for admissions, causing many patients to be held in ambulances before being handed over to A&E teams.
Chris Hopson, chief strategy officer for NHS England, told BBC Radio 4’s Today program Thursday morning that some of the issues with discharge were related to the NHS, such as providing rehabilitation services.
However, she said that “basically” pressures on social care were causing them to not be discharged.
“We want to reduce it to significantly lower numbers. We’re looking at the numbers we had before we went into the epidemic – (they) were around eight, nine, 10 thousand – we want to do better than that.”