Nine hundred patients are currently stranded in Northamptonshire hospitals, making it the worst situation in the country.
Northamptonshire County Council’s director of adult social services says that despite huge efforts to try to improve the situation, as fast as people are being sent home more people are arriving at the doors of the county’s two hospitals.
Ninety over-65s are currently being admitted each day, which is twice the national average.
Stranded patients are those not classed as medically fit to go home because they are waiting on some further action by health or social care providers such as medical tests or home improvements.
Health and council leaders are meeting Northamptonshire MPs today (June 27) to try to get some more money into Northamptonshire’s health and social care economy which is now buckling under the strain of more demand with a growing and ageing population.
The county council, which has responsibility for adult social services, is in a well documented financial crisis and its adult budget is £6m overspent just three months into the year.
The county’s two clinical commissioning groups are also facing ‘significant financial challenges’ and only just managed to balance their books this April, having to raid reserves to do so.
Speaking at the council’s scrutiny meeting yesterday the director of adult social care Anna Earnshaw said: “We are currently in the worst situation in the country in terms of stranded patients.
“The reason is not because we are not doing more to help and you will have seen some of the headlines around us reducing our delayed transfer of care rate, we are one of the most improved in the country in terms of doing that.
“That took about 20 per cent extra staffing that we all had to put in to make that happen. The sad part about that unfortunately was it didn’t change the occupancy levels at the hospitals and how many stranded patients there were and very simply that is because as fast as we were taking people out the demand was coming in.
“So admissions are still too high and they are rising. The answer is clearly stopping people going in.”
At the meeting Cllr Graham Lawman, who is a trustee at Kettering General Hospital, raised the issue of high admissions from care homes. Anna Earnshaw said the rate of admissions from care homes in Northants was three times the national average.
There are plans for health and social services to work together more closely as part of a ‘integrated care system’ and pool some resources.
The director said: “From my point of view health success is our success and vice versa. They are under horrendous pressure at the moment in the acute hospitals – we have 900 stranded patients. The only solution to all of that and to the budget pressures is that we work together.
“So there is a very strong plan around health and social care integration going forward, based in communities and we are building up the proposition at the moment about what that looks like.
“So how health, social care, housing, district and borough services and the voluntary sector will wrap around the primary care networks and how we can provide local care that will stop people ending up in hospital.”
At today’s meeting the health and council bosses will be asking for some funds to help cut the number of stranded patients by 170 people.