A hospital on the South coast is to tell overstaying patients fit enough to go home they will have seven days to leave or face possible legal action, amid fears of bed-blocking.
Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals NHS Trust said it was enforcing the policy for so-called “bed-blockers” after a manager said families were offering excuses for not taking relatives back home, including redecorating their houses.
The Dorset hospital had 70 patients deemed fit enough to be discharged still in beds as of 19 November, the BBC reported.
Katie Whiteside, clinical manager for discharge, told the broadcaster: “At the moment we have relatives coming back telling us they don’t like the decor of care homes, or they don’t like the member of staff who met them at the door.
“Sometimes they are decorating the house or having a ‘granny annexe’ built and they know that, while the patients are here, they are being fed, watered and looked after,” she said.
“We would be in a position to commence legal proceedings and formally evict a patient if that was necessary”
“We would be in a position to commence legal proceedings and formally evict a patient if that was necessary. It would be an absolute last resort but it’s something we are in a position to do with the solicitors here at the trust,” she added.
A trust spokesman said: “The idea of the Pan Dorset Managing Choice Policy is to ensure all patients who require care are in the most appropriate environment. Once medically fit for discharge, an acute hospital environment is not in the patient’s best interests.
“In terms of the ‘seven-day action’, we are asking that when patients and their representatives are given names of care homes from the hospital staff, for example, they view these homes and come to a decision within seven calendar days,” he said.
It comes as doctors warned that up to half a million patients could be put at risk every year, as hospitals struggle to admit patients to hospital wards from bursting A&E departments.
The College of Emergency Medicine said patients could be at risk from what it called “exit blocking”, which it defined as occurring when emergency doctors recommended that a patient should be allocated a hospital bed, but they were unable to be admitted in a reasonable time frame.