NHS bed blocking crisis rife in Fife

A £3 million sticking plaster is just a fraction of what is required to solve Fife’s bed blocking crisis, according to the council leader.
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The local authority went with a begging bowl to the Scottish Government to fund an urgent action plan to help prevent elderly patients staying in hospital longer than necessary as they await alternative care and treatment.

Last week, the Courier highlighted how an escalating number of delayed discharge patients has strained NHS Fife hospitals.

According to Councillor David Ross, the response will provide only ‘breathing space’ to address the issue in the long term.

He stated that an additional £8 million is needed on an annual basis for the provision of social care which is soon to be delivered under a joint board of Fife Council and NHS Fife.

He said: “This plan will allow us a degree of stability over this winter and into the start of next year which will give us the time and breathing space to look at the whole system and decide what changes to make with social integration coming on stream.

“Our position, and I think it is shared by NHS Fife, is that it is not one-off money that is required, it’s recurring, ongoing support for this kind of activity.

“In the long-term this will help reduce the pressure on the hospitals. There is an underlying underfunding of the whole system of £8m annually. That’s the level the joint budget needs to be upgraded by.

“The council has reducing funding so we are looking for significant elements of that to be met through NHS Fife and additional money.”

Mr Ross also expressed hope that social care in Fife would gain some of the £2billion for the NHS announced by Chancellor George Osborne in his budget last week.

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