Quarter of beds in Liverpool hospitals used by people who don’t need to be there

25% of people in beds at Liverpool hospitals are “medically fit” yet have nowhere else to go, owing to pressures around the social care system.
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A quarter of people in Liverpool hospitals are taking up beds and do not need to be there, a health committee has been told.

As Liverpool prepares to deal with the challenges of winter and the Christmas period for its health service, city councillors and officials have been told how hospitals are faced with continued delayed discharge.

Carole Hill, NHS Cheshire and Merseyside associate director of strategy, integration and partnerships, told the Liverpool Health and Wellbeing board of the current issues facing sites in the city centre, Aintree and Broadgreen.

Currently, 25% of people in beds at Liverpool hospitals are “medically fit” yet have nowhere else to go, owing to pressures around the social care system.

Ms Hill said the continued stay by some who can be discharged is “not good for them or the system” and outlined how the NHS hopes to ease the strain throughout winter. These include front door screening of people presenting at emergency departments as well as enhancing urgent community response.

An emphasis will also be placed on providing “hospital level care” through virtual wards in people’s homes in a non-emergency. The committee was told these alternative options will help get patients out of hospital quicker to free up needed beds.

Broadgreen Hospital, Liverpool. Image: Rodhullandemu, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia CommonsBroadgreen Hospital, Liverpool. Image: Rodhullandemu, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons
Broadgreen Hospital, Liverpool. Image: Rodhullandemu, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Ms Hill said a number of issues were also presenting themselves as challenges for the city’s health service, including increasing cases of coronavirus. She added how the NHS is “seeing the impact of the economy and the cost of living crisis” which is having an impact on the “health of vulnerable communities.”

Prof Matt Ashton, Liverpool director of public health, said: “The cost of living crisis will be with us for a while and this will no doubt put pressure on the NHS. We will continue to push measures out and we need to try and make people aware before they need these services.”

A report considered by the committee by the health protection board outlined how this winter is expected to be very challenging for many Liverpool people and with health and care services under severe pressure. It added: “There are multiple threats to health over winter including infectious diseases, cost of living pressures and cold weather. 

“Many Liverpool people are already vulnerable to ill-health due to pre-existing health conditions, poverty, debt, fuel poverty and other social determinants of health. Winter threats impact disproportionately on the most disadvantaged in our communities with increased illness, mortality and hardship.”

The report said Liverpool Council established an internal winter planning coordination group to oversee and coordinate corporate plans, linking with key partners, working with NHS to reduce avoidable admissions and delayed discharges, support for social care – including infection control – winter communications to public, interventions to address cold homes, poverty and cost of living, support for homeless, adverse weather planning, highways and street safety to avoid falls and business continuity planning.