BGS responds to £250 million funding to buy care home beds

09 January 2023

On Sunday 8 January, it was announced that £250 million will be allocated to transfer thousands of patients in England from hospitals into care homes as part of the Government's plan to ease unprecedented pressure on acute services in the NHS.

President of the BGS, Professor Adam Gordon, commented:

The BGS welcomes the Government’s acknowledgment of the current crisis facing hospital discharge. There is a clear need to free up capacity in emergency departments and hospital wards to provide timely, safe, efficient medical care. At the moment, 13,000 patients are in hospital beds, medically ready to be discharged but waiting for social care. The vast majority of these patients are older people for whom extended hospital stays can be harmful. Funding to address this issue is certainly a step in the right direction.

However, we have a number of concerns about this initiative which appears to be a very short-term solution to a long-term problem. In order for this to have the intended impact, care homes must be able to provide the necessary rehabilitation to help older people recover. This requires expert input from nurses, therapists and medical staff. If this expertise is not in place to aid recovery, then older people’s health will continue to decline and hospital readmission become more likely. There is a risk that discharging older people to care homes will simply move the problem down the line and we will be in the same crisis situation in two to three weeks as older people come to the end of the funding period and have ongoing health and social care needs.

The funding announced today is due to end in March 2023 and without immediate planning for a longer term solution to be implemented at the end of this period, the backlog in hospitals is bound to recur within months.  The £500 million previously announced took many weeks to be made available and we are concerned that speedy implementation of the £250 million will be equally challenging for local systems, particularly given the workforce shortages which may result in existing staff being deployed from other much-needed services. It is also unclear whether this funding is new funding or is expected to come from existing budgets.

The current crisis demands action from Government and we are glad there is some acknowledgement of the needs of older people who are marooned in hospital. But the proposed solutions are, at best, a short-term fix. The Government must focus on long-term planning to ensure a sustainable approach to the delivery of health and social care for all.”