Elderly people are “trapped” in English hospitals in ever greater numbers as there is nowhere else for them to go, the charity Age UK has warned.
Its analysis shows patients spent a total of nearly 2.5 million days stuck in a hospital over the past five years.
Age UK said it was bad for patients’ health, a waste of NHS resources and a huge cost to taxpayers.
NHS England said extra funds allocated to councils would help give care and support to patients leaving hospital.
Age UK says there is a crisis in social care ranging from a shortage of care home places to a lack of district nurses to help people in their own home.
It says the situation has got worse and the number of people being kept in hospital in 2014-15 increased by 19% on the previous year.
The charity’s analysis of NHS England data for the last financial year showed the days spent stuck in hospital included:
- 174,000 waiting for a residential home place
- 216,000 waiting for a nursing home place
- 206,000 waiting for help from social care workers or district nurses to get people back into their own home
- 41,400 waiting for ramps or stairlifts to be installed into patients’ homes.
BBC cost of care project
Caroline Abrahams, from Age UK, said: “These figures show that year-on-year, older people are being trapped in hospital in ever greater numbers because of a delayed assessment, care home place, home care package or home adaptation.
“Without decent social care when discharged, whether to their own home or to a care home, hospital stays are often much longer than they need to be and older people are more likely to be readmitted because their recovery stalls.”
She said this was a waste of NHS resources because it cost nearly £2,000 per week for an NHS bed in comparison to around £560 per week in residential care.
“Everyone agrees the way to go is to integrate social care and health much more effectively, but unfortunately our report shows we’ve got a long way to go before really the reality lives up to the rhetoric,” she told the BBC .
“And if we can’t get it right for such an important group of people, older people stuck in hospital waiting to get out, really we have to redouble our efforts and do much better.”
An NHS England spokesperson said: “We continue to need strong joint working between hospitals, community services, care homes and home care, which is being further helped by the extra £35 million allocated to local councils for social care so patients leaving hospital get the care and support they need.”