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Discharge from Hospital: Care Packages

Volume 707: debated on Tuesday 18 January 2022

13. What steps he is taking to help expedite the process of arranging care packages for people waiting to be discharged from hospital; and if he will make a statement. (905088)

People should be discharged from hospital safely and with the appropriate care and support they need. As the Secretary of State outlined, we have provided £3.3 billion via the NHS to facilitate timely hospital discharges over the pandemic, including £478 million just for this winter. We recognise that providers and local authorities have experienced significant challenges in recruiting and retaining social care workers. That is why we have provided £462.5 million over winter, for this period, to support care providers to improve existing care support.

I thank the Minister for that response, but even given all that help, almost 30% of available acute beds in Gloucestershire are occupied by patients who are medically fit for discharge. About half of those are awaiting care packages and the other half are looking for beds in community hospitals or care homes, or awaiting home discharge. What more can the Government do to relieve the pressure on the acute hospitals in Gloucestershire and on all the medical staff?

I assure my hon. Friend that this is something we take very seriously and we meet every day to discuss this issue. We are conscious of the pressures caused by omicron, and of the herculean challenges faced by health and social care providers to discharge people in a safe and timely way, particularly with outbreaks and having to manage infection prevention and control. That includes the Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which declared a national incident on 28 December at its Gloucestershire site. But it responded brilliantly and stood down the incident nine days later. As the Secretary of State said, we have also established a national discharge taskforce, which is driving progress to bring a renewed focus on reducing discharge delays, including in Gloucestershire, and working with local government and the NHS.