24 February 2011
The Serious Clinical Negligence Issue of Bed Blocking
Whilst reading The Telegraph this morning I came across an article on an issue currently affecting our health system.
Bed blocking is where the elderly are deemed fit enough for discharge, but have to remain in hospital; either because they do not have adequate support at home or there is no place in a care home for them.This article set outs concerns that the £2 million allocated to adult care services will not resolve the issue as the funds are not ring fenced.My concern as aclinical negligence lawyer is that the gross underfunding of care homes has a direct impact on hospital care. This bed-blocking stretches the already over-extended hospital staff affecting both the bed-blockers and the unwell patients.
- The bed-blockers are targets for poor nursing care as they become low priority patients. They receive minimal nursing care and are at risk from malnutrition, increased falls. hospital acquired infection and increased falls;
- It diverts resources from new and existing patients in greater need of hospital services. I suspect we shall see more hospital accidents. This may manifest in diagnosis errors as new patients are not able to be admitted for thorough examination and observation; prescription errors as staff don't have time to carefully check medication; and a deterioration in general nursing care leading to a host of more serious (and avoidable) conditions.
Funding for elderly care seriously needs attention. The government has to avoid the frightening statistic in the Telegraph article that says "If current trends continue, almost 100,000 of 170,000 NHS beds will end up being filled by elderly people who are well enough to be in residential care".Iona Millais is a solicitor specialising in clinical negligence. If you or a member of your family have a clinical negligence enquiry please call our expert clinical negligence solicitors on freephone 0800 916 9049 or claim online and one of our specialist clinical negligence team will be in touch.