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Ops Cancelled in Bed Block 'Crisis'

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5:05pm 8th October 2013
(Updated 5:05pm 8th October 2013)

Operations at Cornwall's biggest hospital are cancelled because it is running out of beds.

Treliske says there are more than fifty patients who are ready to be discharged but who have nowhere to go.

The problem, known as "bed blocking" has been gradually getting worse and bosses at Treliske have told Pirate FM it is now "unacceptable."

Yesterday Pirate FM revealed claims 66 community hospital beds have shut from Penzance to Bodmin in the last five years.

The Chief Executive of the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust, Lezli Boswell said: "RCHT currently has over 50 patients who are medically fit to leave the hospital but we are unable to discharge due to lack of community health and social care support. It is this ongoing and unacceptable situation that has led us again to regrettably cancel planned operations.

"I am deeply sorry to all those patients who had been expecting treatment today and we realise that cancelling surgery can be distressing for patients and frustrating for staff. We will continue to do all we can to ensure patients receive the best possible care and when cancellations are made that we offer an alternative date as quickly as possible.

"We consider the need to cancel any operation at short notice unacceptable and we are working with NHS Kernow, Peninsula Community Health and Cornwall Council to ensure we provide the services the people of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have a right to expect."

A statement from Peninsula Community Health said: "We work closely with all our health and social care partners on a daily basis to ensure that patients receive care in the right setting for their needs.

"We are part of a ‘Whole System Resilience Network’ and are committed to supporting our health and social care partners to make patient safety absolute priority at all times."

Graham Webster from Health Initiative Cornwall said: "There is a major problem. It is a significant risk to this hospital. I believe it will compromise patient care over the winter unless we fix it and fix it very soon.

"We're extremely concerned about the situation and the impact it has on patients - very poorly patients waiting to come into this hospital.

"It's all about trust and confidence and, at this moment in time, people out in the community are very worried about this hospital's ability to cope over the forthcoming winter."

Sarah Newton MP has released the following statement: ‘‘I am deeply concerned that Treliske has had to cancel scheduled operations due to patients being delayed in going home, or onto a suitable care environment.  In addition to being worrying for the all the patients and families involved, as well as frustrating for the hard working staff at the Hospital,  this situation highlights a lack of joined up working between our local NHS and Cornwall Council’s social care services.

‘This situation is all the more frustrating as this should be a time of new opportunities for social care. Whilst the Council does of course continue to face financial challenges, it does have a considerable resource base – in this financial year alone the Council will be spending £1,166.601m. The Council has now been handed new powers to help this resource base to grow over the coming years and has the ability to choose what to focus its spending on.

‘A focus on adult social care could see real progress made, as it would allow Cornwall Council to capitalise on its new ability to work hand in hand with the NHS. Such partnership working has the potential to deliver real improvements in patient care, as pilots such as the Changing Lives project have shown over recent months. The funding is there to support integration, with the NHS Cornwall budget increasing by 6% over the past three years and Cornwall Council benefitting from special health and social grant integration funding;  £7.727 million in 2011-12, £7.448 million in 2012-13 and £9.998 million in 2013-2014.

‘Cornwall Council has the ability to realise the new opportunities to deliver joined up heath and social care services, based around the patient. Now is the time for the Chief Executive and Leader of Cornwall Council to get round the table with the leaders of our local NHS and sort out this dreadful situation.’’

Kim Carey, Corporate Director for Adult Care and Support said: "We recognise the difficulties people face when their operations are cancelled at very short notice and are sorry for any upset that people experience in these situations.  We are working closely with health colleagues to ensure that such circumstances occur as rarely as possible.

"We have carried out an urgent investigation into the numbers of people waiting to be discharged from RCHT yesterday.  The Council is only responsible for social care clients and can confirm that none of the delays were due to people waiting for social care provision.

"Delivering high quality health and social care services to people in Cornwall involves a number of partners, including RCHT, NHS Kernow and Peninsula Community Health as well as Cornwall Council.  This is a highly complex process which requires all parts of the system to work closely together.

"Officers from the Council meet regularly with health colleagues to review the ongoing situation and identify, and then address, specific pressures within any part of the system.  We appreciate the challenges which face RCHT, particularly during the Winter months, and have developed a robust early warning system in partnership with health partners to highlight when a crisis situation is developing.  Unfortunately in this case we were not alerted to any escalating problems by RCHT and, once this current crisis has been resolved, will be seeking to work with the hospital to investigate why this did not take place.

"Last year the Council spent £10.7 million on services which help prevent people in Cornwall from going into hospital in the first place, as well as providing short term care or care home placements if required when they are discharged.  This was partly funded by the £9m contribution from health, with the remaining £1.7m coming from the Council.  

"This includes £3.8m on our early intervention services and Rapid Assessment and Treatment Service (RATS) service which carries out urgent assessments on people leaving hospital or who face unexpected changes in their circumstances and then arrange for short term support to be provided.  £1.5 million was spent on providing short term care packages and a further £3m on short term home care placements. .

"We also spent £2.4m on STEPs, our prevention service which works intensively with people who need to leave hospital and helps them avoid having to go into hospital in the first place.

"Cornwall’s older population is growing much faster than the national average.  At the same time we are facing a significant reduction in our funding from the Government.  As a result of these pressures we currently have a £3 million overspend in services for older people and people with disabilities."

5:05pm 8th October 2013

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