Man evicted from hospital for blocking bed for two years

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Media captionA man spent two years as a hospital patient

A hospital applied for a court order to remove a patient who had occupied a bed "unnecessarily" for more than two years.

The man, who has not been named by the hospital, had refused to leave the James Paget University Hospital in Norfolk.

The hospital said he had been "fit for discharge" and had been offered appropriate accommodation.

It said the decision to go to court was a last resort and "not taken lightly".

The man, from Suffolk, had been at the hospital in Gorleston, near Great Yarmouth, since August 2014.

'Using a hospital as a hotel'

A patient who had been in the same ward said it had been an "open secret" at the hospital that he had been there for more than two years.

The woman, who wanted to remain anonymous, said she was "disgusted".

"It's ridiculous, it's using a hospital as a hotel," she said.

"This person was there for two years being fed, watered, looked after, kept clean... and local people have been barred from that bed because he was there."

Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption The man was at the hospital from August 2014 to January 2017

The hospital applied to the court for a possession order to claim back the bed occupied by the man.

It was granted on 1 December and the man was evicted on 10 January.

The Department for Health says the average daily cost of a hospital bed is about £400, meaning the man's stay at James Paget would have cost about £340,000 for the two years.

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James Paget Hospital

Image copyright PA
  • Opened on 21 July, 1982
  • It has 458 inpatient beds and 26 day case beds
  • The hospital serves 230,000 residents across Great Yarmouth, Lowestoft and Waveney
  • It employs 3,000 staff
  • The hospital's income for 2015/2016 was £166.9m

Anna Hills, the hospital's director of governance, said: "The gentleman repeatedly refused all offers of appropriate accommodation organised by our local authority and social care partners, despite being fit for discharge.

"As a last resort, the trust had to apply to the court to allow us to remove the gentleman from the hospital.

"The decision to go to court (a court of possession) was not taken lightly but our priority has to be considering the needs of all our patients."

The hospital said the man had been placed in accommodation in the community.

Analysis: Nick Triggle, BBC health correspondent

This is a highly unusual case and to protect the identity of the patient few details have been released so it is difficult to unpick exactly what has happened here.

However, patients choosing to stay in hospital are perhaps more common than you think.

There are more than 700 patients in English hospitals who are ready for discharge, but choose to stay or whose families want them to stay.

This is normally because the patient or their loved ones do not feel able to cope.

Hospitals work with the families to see what support can be provided in the community or simply spend a few more days or weeks caring for the patient until they feel they are fit to leave.

But with so much pressure on hospitals at the moment there is a growing need to free up beds as soon as possible.

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