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‘Perilous’ shortage of homecare workers leaves patients trapped in hospitals

A “perilous” shortage of homecare workers is the biggest reason thousands of people are languishing longer in hospital than needed, driving up waiting lists and making people sicker, figures reveal.

Almost one in four people unable to be discharged – sometimes for weeks – were trapped in hospital because they were waiting for home care, as agencies hand back contracts because staff are quitting owing to low pay, leaving 15% of jobs vacant.

A fifth of people unable to be discharged were also waiting for short-term rehabilitation and 15% were waiting for a bed in a care home, according to analysis of data obtained using freedom of information requests and public records by Nuffield Trust and the Health Foundation.

It estimated that in April this year, one in six patients were in hospital because of delayed discharge, and the discharge of patients with a hospital stay of more than three weeks was delayed by 14 days on average.

“People are ending up in hospital for malnutrition and dehydration, problems which, even if you supported people a little bit at home, would stop,” said Jane Townson, the director of the Homecare Association.

“More providers are having to turn down work than usual and some are having to hand back people because they can’t do it.”

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Source: The Guardian, 3 October 2022


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