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Hospital to enforce seven-day 'eviction' policy to free up beds


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”

Katie Whiteside

“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.


Readers' comments (22)

  • A granny is for life, except at Christmas.

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  • Find a care home in seven days? How about helping people to find a care home that meets their needs, is appropriate, is located where the family can visit, etc. is safe, is what the patient wants. Anybody can look in the yellow pages for the name of a care home - doesn't mean it will be the right place!

    My neighbour left hospital and after a couple of hours at home found herself in a care home. There I saw appalling care including a senior nurse give my neighbour a tablet that had been dropped on a filthy floor. In both the home she was in the care was awful. She was left unattended for too long and yes the bell was rarely answered when she pressed it.

    Most people can't wait to get out of hospital but there are times when the support needed can not be organised within a week.

    If you're going to apply this ridiculous policy then please also apply it when the local authority is the one stalling - when they haven't organised the home care visits or the key safe, when they haven't organised the emergency call system or the commode etc.

    Wen my neighbour came home for those few hours the only person the hospital told was her brother who lives hundreds of miles away. I was away on holiday but I was supposed to be the contact for night time emergencies and nobody had told me they were sending her home. Nobody local had been informed but luckily her brother phoned her gardener to let him know!

    I can see the tabloid headlines now - people dying in their own homes because they've been kicked out of hospital with no support in place.

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  • I hope that this is just a misinterpretation of the true facts. I agree, trying to find a care home can take weeks as the Continuing care system is getting longer and longer and more labourious. Meeting after meeting and waiting for replies and decisions before you can even find a suitable nursing home with beds. As for families making excuses for taking people out of hospital, this must not be that common. Patients should be discharged to suitable accommodation that is clean, dry and fit for purpose. I think it is the NHS duty of care is it not?

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  • Finally a trust that is taking some action!! I see on a daily basis patients who are more than fit to go home, blocking beds in the hospital because it may require a little effort on their relatives to part to actually look after them! It is the easy option to simply leave these patients in a hospital, as the article clearly states the are being 'fed, watered and looked after' so why should the families bother, when they can pop up for an hour a day to ease their conscience..
    If care homes are required then they should absolutley be approprately checked that they fit the needs of the person, however i see patients relatives refusing care home places or off site bed places due to it doesnt suit them having to travel?! Ridiculous that this is pampered too. Maybe all other trusts nationwide should consider this approach. Food for though....

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  • The main problem is, as stated, that acute hospital environments are a completely inappropriate environment for patients 'fit for discharge'. These patients who are often elderly or frail are at increased risk of contracting hospital aquired infections, becoming incontinent and losing independence as a result of staying in hospital. However despite the problems bed blocking poses to the NHS and the costs of paying to maintain patients who are medically fit, I believe legal proceedings are not the answer. Here a multi organisational approach is required including care homes, respite services and hospital staff.
    It is also too easy in this country to criticize families for not taking full responsibility. Work priorities and living in different cities are significant barriers in the ability to care full time for a relative. A longer term goal is what should be considered here.

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  • Universal problem at in Australia I have experienced families who have extended a relative's "stay in hospital" until they have returned from holiday etc. usually with "consultation" from their GP/ Specialist!!

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  • It certainly isn't the automatic responsibility of family to take on a caring role for a relative. Most people work and would have to give up their jobs and responsibility for their own children to do this.

    Why does the NHS continually assume that family CAN take on the caring role. Even when they can it may take time to get things ready. If you've just paid the electricity bill there may be no spare cash for aids and adapations immediately. If family take granny home with no access to an upstairs bathroom the same NHS would be reporting them to safeguarding. The NHS lays down the law and NEVER asks family / existing carers if they CAN take on the extra responsibility of new stuff.

    I speak as a carer of thirty years who would be rich if she hadn't spent so much money on equipment etc. that it is not my responsibility to finance! Also as a carer who has always taken on the extra new stuff to deal with - because sure as hell the NHS is't going to do it. When people read and hear about how badly carers / family are treated by officialdom is it any wonder that they are reluctant to take this role on ?

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  • About time it was realised also that the sons/daughters of a lot of these elderly people are themselves not 'spring chickens', and may not be in the best of health. My husband and I are worn ragged by the hour and a half each way journey to help care for my Mum (no other rels. to help). The so called integrated services are a joke. Communication with each other and Mum/us is pathetic (read, non-existent). The Nursing care in particular has been very, very, poor. Whatever has happened to evidence based practice?

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  • These poor elderly people may be 'fit to be discharged' but are they as 'fit' as they were before they needed to be admitted in the first place? The answer is probably NO, and that is the reason relatives cannot just say 'fine come on home' . Even if they are lucky enough to not have to work and live in a house large enough to accommodate an elderly relative, with all the safety features that would be required. The fact is many of these elderly were happily living independent lives until admission, but sadly now are not able to do so. Giving seven days to find alternative accommodation is laughable or would be if it was not so sad!

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  • Is this enforceable?
    Is a hospital bed rented and subject to tenancy law?
    Should a daily charge be rendered following a patients ' fit for discharge' status.
    But, who will facilitate an eviction?
    A doctor, a nurse or Bailiff?

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