University Hospital of North Staffordshire faces £2m bill for private beds
SCORES of places have had to be purchased in private nursing homes by the NHS in a bid to head off a beds crisis at Staffordshire's biggest hospital.
Action is needed at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire to compensate for the expected loss of 30 beds at the Stoke-on-Trent City Council-run St Michael's rehabilitation centre.
The closure of the Chell-based home is intended to save £883,000 every year in public money.
But now taxpayers face forking out an estimated £2 million per year as the hospital trust moves to buy nursing home beds to cope with the shortfall.
Cheap Car Insurance For Drink Drivers -Contact Insure365 01782...View details
Cheap Car Insurance For Drink Drivers -Contact Insure365 01782 898188, Free Legal Protection Included valued at £25.00
Terms: 1 Voucher Per Customer
Contact: 01782 898188
Valid until: Friday, June 21 2013
St Michael's has been used to take in recovering patients from the hospital for several years.
Plans to close it have now been agreed by Stoke-on-Trent City Council.
But delays facing emergency cases at the hospital are still longer than Government targets, despite it opening more than 100 extra beds. So, as a result of losing the St Michael's beds, the area's health funding bodies have bought the use of 60 nursing home rooms to ease the crisis.
The move will allow the UHNS to discharge patients sooner – and free more of its own 1,144 beds to take cases flooding through A&E.
Health campaigners say the NHS has had to invest into the private sector to make up for the closure of St Michael's.
Ian Syme, co-ordinator of North Staffordshire Healthwatch, said: "Losing St Michael's will undermine the local health economy's attempt to either keep people out of the UHNS or ensure they can be discharged quickly and safely.
"It is now having to invest large sums in these nursing home places, scattered all over the place, instead of having all care all under one roof at St Michael's"
Specialist staff from the hospital and the county's community health trust will support the nursing homes to help the NHS patients back to full health. Many of the 60 beds have been purchased at Stoke-on-Trent's biggest private home – Stadium Court in Cobridge – but other centres are also part of the arrangements. The hospital's A&E unit has been hit by a 10 percent rise in patients in a year, with many of those attending needing to be admitted to beds.
But the shortage means patients are kept waiting much longer than the four-hour Government deadline.
UHNS chief operating officer Mark Mould said: "To cope with this increase in demand we need 70 more beds than we did last year.
"In addition around 50 patients are in beds beyond the date when they should have been discharged and others are unable to leave as they are on wards that have been closed by the norovirus infection.
"To help, 60 places have been spot-purchased in nursing homes."
Medical director Dr Gavin Russell said: "More patients must be treated in the community to stop them having to come in here.
"We need to intervene in their care three to four days before their health deteriorates to the point it needs hospital emergency treatment."