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Urgent Talks Held To Prevent Hospital Bed Blocking

Thursday November 10 2011

Barnsley Hospital Barnsley Hospital

HEALTH chiefs and councillors are holding urgent talks to prevent Barnsley Hospital becoming bed-blocked by patients who should be released home amid fears over the closure of a care home.

Barnsley Council announced plans in August to close Highfield Grange at Wombwell - the only facility in the borough which provides intermediate care for people who are well enough to be discharged from hospital but not yet fit enough to go home.

Highfield Grange is part funded by the council and NHS Barnsley but budget cuts mean not all the £2.6m-a-year it takes to run the facility is available.

Today, councillors will be meeting with representatives from social services, Barnsley Hospital and NHS Barnsley to discuss what alternatives could be offered. It comes after a report was prepared which revealed the council fears it could be fined for 'bed-blocking' - taking up urgently needed beds for people who could be discharged.

A spokesman said: "If inadequate intermediate care arrangements are put in place following the closure the hospital is at risk of being fined if people are readmitted to hospital within 30 days of discharge. It could also cause a backlog in hospital beds due to delayed discharges, which would carry a cost for the PCT and fines for Council if discharges are delayed due to the lack of capacity to meet social care needs."

A spokesperson for Barnsley Hospital said it is working closely with the council, local GPs, Age Concern and the Hospital at Home Team to find a solution.

She added: “Introducing penalties for blocking beds is absolutely not our intention at this stage."

Chair of the Personal and Family Wellbeing Scrutiny Commission, Coun Jennifer Worton, said: "We don’t want our older people to have to stay in hospital longer than they need to because services are inadequate, nor do we want them to be admitted to hospital if avoidable."

It is anticipated that the closure - which is earmarked for March 2012 - would affect 34 council staff and 38 NHS staff, who would be put 'at risk' of redundancy.

* Do you have a comment about Highfield Grange - the level of care you received there and what you think to the plans? If so, comment in the box below and we will pass them on to be considered. The meeting is at 2pm today (November 10.)

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Reply Posted by Lucy on Thursday November 10 2011 at 11:33
My mum works there as part of the kitchen staff. It's such a shame to see it close, it'll cause problems elsewhere, especially when there will be no where to send people for rehabilitation. I know a few people who have been on there too to be cared for and their family members cannot praise it enough.

Reply Posted by Becky on Thursday November 10 2011 at 16:21
my dad had a massive stroke last year then his house flooded on xmas day and he went to highfield grange for a couple of month and they were really good with him i dont wot we would have done if highfield grange hadnt been there

Reply Posted by Alex on Thursday November 10 2011 at 21:48
In 2010/11 the Department of Health gave PCTs (including NHS Barnsley) £70 million to invest, with the assistance of Local Authorities and hospitals, in reablement (basically improving the process of hospital discharge and rehabilitation to avoid readmissions to hospital). This year, in 2011/12 a further £150 million has been made available. There are roughly 150 PCTs in the country, so you may want to ask the PCT how their £1.5m has been spent. Surely at the very least they (and the council) should have a credible plan for intermediate care rather than a need for crisis talks at this late stage?