Oxfordshire hospital bed-blocking nearly halves

The number of people stuck in Oxfordshire's hospitals for longer than they need to be has almost halved over five months, figures have revealed.

In October 2010 there were 174 incidents of bed-blocking in the county's hospitals.

Figures released by health chiefs show that from February there were 94 people a week in hospital who need not be, or were waiting to be transferred.

Health officials said investment and better services had helped.

Last year Oxfordshire County Council was faced with charges of £10,000 from the Royal Berkshire Hospital, which claimed it was not doing enough to prevent bed-blocking by tackling a lack of care provision.

John Jackson, director for social care and community services at Oxfordshire County Council, said the Conservative-led local authority wanted to tackle the need for patients going into hospital in the first place.

"We made a lot of progress since the Autumn but we have more to do to take the figures down even further," he added.

"The majority are waiting to move into community hospital beds."

'Nearly the worst'

Dr Mike Smith, of healthcare charity the Patients' Association, praised the reduction but said impending funding cuts to the NHS could see a reverse in numbers.

He called for more occupational health therapists to help adapt the patient's home to their specific needs.

"Hospital is not the place for them," he said.

"That's where you deal with the medical emergency our other medical problem and when that's clear they shouldn't really be there."

Paul Cann, Chief Executive of Age UK Oxfordshire, said he was "encouraged" by the drop.

"We were coming from a very low base, we were nearly the worst local authority in the country in terms of this statistic.

"We still have 100 people each week who are ready to move on, who are not moving on and are still stuck in the system.

"We are clearly going in the right direction but I think we have to do a lot more."

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