Huge increase in elderly being admitted to hospitals - and crisis for Cambridgeshire County Council is dealing with their discharge

Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, which is experiencing major problems of 'bed blocking' once elder

Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, which is experiencing major problems of 'bed blocking' once elderly patients have been treated [Picture: Google] - Credit: Archant

A significant rise in the number of older residents being admitted to hospitals in Cambridge and King’s Lynn has led to a short term crisis for Cambridgeshire County Council as they struggle to accommodate them on discharge.

From April to August of this year there was a 24 per cent rise in the number of over 80s from Fenland admitted to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King’s Lynn.

At Addenbrooke’s the percentage increase was 7.9 which equates to an extra 245 patients and at King’s Lynn an extra 119.

Delayed transfer of care from these hospitals is causing immense problems for Cambridgeshire County Council.

And councillors will be warned next week that the county’s health and care system “may be subject to a formal review by the Care Quality Commission in the New Year”.

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The warning will be spelled out in a report by Wendi Ogle-Welborne, executive director people and communities, to the county council adults committee on November 9.

Until recently, she says, the council had been on “an improvement journey” in relation to delayed transfers of care since April 2013.

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But of late the situation had worsened, particularly at Addenbrooke’s and the Queen Elizabeth, the latter hospital being the catchment hospital for parts of the Fenland area.

She said: “However, as Addenbrooke’s is a much larger hospital the number of additional patients here is particularly important.

“It has a very big impact on demand on social care and community services post discharge, as well as on the overall performance figures for Cambridgeshire.

“Recent analysis shows that social care teams were receiving on average 100 contacts a week from the acute hospitals.

“By the end of August 2017 we were receiving around 150 a week – a significant increase given the budget and staffing pressures we are facing.”

To help overcome the problems the county council is expanding its home care capacity.

She said one approach has been to increase from 40 to 72 the number of providers.

“The contract value is £30 million per annum and is the largest contract involving the council this year,” she said.

The new contract went live from November 1.

Other measures include doubling the number of care home places in its block contract “to support flow from the acute hospital systems”.

Cambridgeshire has also embarked on what has been described as “an ambitious programme” to increase the overall care home provision in the county by 500 beds.

And a centralised brokerage arrangement for care home vacancies will be expanded to include to home care.

However councillors will be told that everything possible will be done to bring the county in line with Government targets.

“Although, this is an extremely challenging target, the county council has agreed to meet the improvement trajectory required,” says Ms Ogle-Welborne.

Interim beds in extra care sheltered housing and care homes will support hospital discharge, she added.

Ms Ogle-Welborne says Government ministers have warned the county council of the consequences if improvements are not made and a wide range of internal performance related measures were also in hand.

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