The government is considering the idea of “hospital hotels” where elderly patients can recover from illnesses or falls.
The proposals to ease so-called bed-blocking on NHS wards are based on a system used in Scandinavia, where services are run by private hotel chains.
NHS England, the new body responsible for recommending how local doctors’ groups should provide for their patients, has been asked to review the scheme.
Bed-blocking can happen when patients no longer require specialist medical treatment at hospital, but need more support than can be given at home.
An estimated 30,000 patients each year remain in hospital despite being well enough to be discharged.
According to the the Daily Telegraph, health minister Earl Howe said work was being carried out on whether “the Scandinavian model” could help in England.
In a letter to Baroness Greengross, a cross-bench peer who has investigated the issue, Lord Howe said local commissioning groups had “freedom and responsibility” to develop their own “innovative” ways to deal with problems.
“(NHS England) would welcome the opportunity to review this model alongside the suite of other potential best practice resources,” the minister said.
Lady Greengross told the newspaper that some hospitals were already trying a patient hotel system, “but they are not doing it on the scale or as well as Scandinavia”.
Unused NHS buildings on hospital campuses could be converted by hotel companies, she said.
“The idea is that if you go into hospital and you don’t need acute care, which a lot of old people particularly don’t, or you’ve had a difficult pregnancy and you need access to specialist care but you don’t need it most of the time, you are immediately moved out of a hospital to something run by a hotel.
“It is of course much cheaper than being in a hospital. The family can help because they can go in at any time because you’re in a private room.”
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