Headlines: September 20th, 2002

The Local Government Association has told the Government that it is wrong to believe that councils lack commitment or will to tackle the delays in discharges from hospitals. Bed-blocking results from a complex process which involves a number of parties and only a whole system approach will address the problem.The Government’s proposals to alleviate bed-blocking centre on the adoption of the Swedish model which forces councils to pay for the costs of delays to discharging older people from hospital when suitable care cannot be found. It is also intended to extend this approach to mental health patients.

The Association, which is working with the NHS Confederation and the Association of Directors of Social Services, to solve the problem, believes that the proposals are costly, unworkable and based on a flawed analysis of the real problems. The proposals have a range of hidden costs not fully identified in consultations. The real problems are the lack of residential care and patients exercising choice.

Although Sweden has been operating this model for some time it currently has the same level of delayed discharges as the UK.