NHS England has vowed to provide an extra 5,000 beds this winter, in a pre-emptive bid to provide increased capacity and relieve pressure on services – but CSP warns that root causes, such as staff shortages, must be addressed.
As well as providing extra beds, NHS England also plans to introduce a system of so-called “care traffic control centres” to help ensure that patients who are deemed medically fit to leave hospital can be discharged as promptly and efficiently as possible.
Commenting on NHS England’s plans, CSP chief executive Karen Middleton said: ‘It's good to see NHS England looking ahead and attempting to tackle this issue now.
‘However, they are ultimately treating a symptom that the NHS now faces year-round and we need more than ever to address the root cause.
‘Due to a lack of staff and an ever-increasing backlog, patients who having been on waiting lists for months and in some cases years, now have a greater need for health and social care services than ever before.
‘Whilst care traffic control centres could well be an effective and smarter way to enable quicker discharge via the most appropriate routes, we know that many of these routes, especially rehab services in the community, are in a desperate state due to lack of funding, space and resources. Unless this is addressed, patients will ultimately still face longer in hospital and have insufficient support when they are able to leave.
This intervention doesn’t do anything to remove us from the ongoing cycle of people needing to be readmitted to hospital. In order to stop this, there must be an investment in the recruitment and retention of staff and rehab facilities in the NHS and priority placed on prevention across a range of government departments.
Recently released discharge data from NHS England also highlighted the need for increased investment in rehabilitation services and the rehab workforce.
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