Therese Coffey vows to fix social care to ease hospital bed-blocking

Therese Coffey vows to fix social care issues to ease hospital bed-blocking and reduce waiting lists

  • The Health Secretary said thousands of people in hospital don’t need to be
  • The controversial £12 billion-a-year health and social care levy will be scrapped 
  • Miss Coffey promised that she will protect health and social care spending
  • She said junior medics will receive ‘a significant package’ to avoid strike action

Therese Coffey vowed yesterday to combat the NHS bed-blocking crisis to slash record waiting lists and life-threatening ambulance delays.

The Health Secretary said fixing social care was a priority so that medically fit patients could be discharged promptly from hospital.

This will allow more patients to be admitted for operations and prevent ambulances queuing outside A&E waiting for a bed to become available.

Miss Coffey promised to protect health and social care spending and improve access to dentists and GPs.

The Health Secretary said fixing social care was a priority so that medically fit patients could be discharged promptly from hospital

She ruled out charging patients to see their family doctor and suggested more of the 6.7 million patients on NHS waiting lists will be sent to private hospitals so they can be treated quicker.

Revealing the urgency with which she was approaching her role, she told LBC yesterday: ‘I’m very conscious that we need to make improvements and we need to make them quickly.’

The Daily Mail revealed last month that more than 13,000 hospital beds – one in seven – are occupied by patients with no medical need to be there. These bed-blockers, or ‘delayed discharges’, cost the NHS up to £5.5million a day.

Vulnerable patients face assessment delays and difficulty finding a care home place or someone to help them cook, wash and dress in their own home because of a shortage of carers.

Asked on BBC Radio’s 4 Today programme about Prime Minister Liz Truss’s plan to divert funds from the NHS to social care, Miss Coffey said: ‘People are clear that within the system there are people in hospital who don’t need to be in hospital, do need continuing care, but not necessarily in our acute hospitals. That’s why making sure we help patients get to the place where they need to be will open up the opportunity and capacity for more people to be treated in acute hospitals.’

Miss Coffey promised to protect health and social care spending and improve access to dentists and GPs.

Therese Coffey vowed yesterday to combat the NHS bed-blocking crisis to slash record waiting lists and life-threatening ambulance delays.

 She ruled out charging patients to see their family doctor and suggested more of the 6.7 million patients on NHS waiting lists will be sent to private hospitals so they can be treated quicker.

She said she hoped doctors would ‘continue to put their patients first’, adding that they will receive ‘a significant package that’s been agreed

On BBC Breakfast, she said: ‘There are thousands of people in hospital who don’t need clinically to be in hospital that need care once they leave. This combination of focusing on social care and health is going to be critical.’

Bed-blocking is contributing to fatal ambulance delays as crews are forced to queue with patients outside A&E until a bed is available, preventing them responding to new 999 calls.

As a result ‘category 2’ calls, which include heart attacks and strokes, have an average response time of 59 minutes – three times the target of 18 minutes.

Miss Coffey said spending on health and care will remain unchanged, but said the controversial £12billion-a-year health and social care levy – funded by a rise in national insurance – will be scrapped. Asked about using private companies to run hospitals, she said: ‘I think we need to use all the capacity there is in the healthcare system.’

Revealing the urgency with which she was approaching her role, she told LBC yesterday: ‘I’m very conscious that we need to make improvements and we need to make them quickly.’

Miss Coffey pledged to help patients get NHS appointments, saying: ‘We want to be promoting what we can do better for patients so they can get their appointments, whether for a doctor or a dentist, to tackle the backlogs, the ambulances and of course social care.’

Her comments follow the four priorities she outlined when appointed Health and Social Care Secretary – ‘A, B, C, D – ambulances backlogs, care, doctors and dentists.’

Asked how she plans to avert a potential strike by junior medics, who want a pay rises of up to 30 per cent, she said she hoped doctors would ‘continue to put their patients first’, adding that they will receive ‘a significant package that’s been agreed… through the independent pay review body’.

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