The King's Fund response to the PAC report on discharging older people from hospitals

Responding to the Public Accounts Committee’s report on discharging older people from hospitals, Richard Murray, Director of Policy at The King’s Fund, said:

‘The growing and unacceptable delays in discharging patients from hospital highlighted in today’s report symbolise the twin crises facing the NHS and social care.

‘New figures published since the report was finalised show that the number of patients medically fit for discharge but stuck in hospital has reached record levels. As well as unnecessarily occupying beds for patients who need them, this is costing the NHS in excess of £800 million a year. More importantly, it imposes a significant human cost on the patients and families affected.

‘This increase has mainly been driven by delays in arranging social care for patients who need support when they are discharged, a direct result of year-on-year of cuts in social care funding. However, the majority of the delays are caused by NHS-related problems, with significant variation in local performance.

‘Too often, delayed discharges are down to poor collaboration between services, failures to share data and inadequate processes. While this report once again highlights the huge pressures on health and social care, it should also be a wake-up call for local services to improve performance.’

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The King's Fund is an independent charity working to improve health and care in England. We help to shape policy and practice through research and analysis; develop individuals, teams and organisations; promote understanding of the health and social care system; and bring people together to learn, share knowledge and debate. Our vision is that the best possible care is available to all.