Extra beds squeezed into hospitals as part of winter planning are crowding out space for rehab, pushing up length of stay and knock-on costs, and increasing the chance of readmission, NHS leaders have been warned.
Systems and trusts were encouraged to staff thousands of additional ward beds in the run-up to last winter to try to ease emergency care pressures, and government and NHS England have since asked for many of them to be kept open through the year.
However, many of the additional beds are not in proper ward spaces, instead being located in gyms and other areas used for physiotherapy and other rehab. This followed on from some rehab areas already being lost during the pandemic, to be used for beds or storage.
NHSE has sent out a warning about the issue, following a commitment by ministers earlier this year. However, senior figures in physio and older people’s care remain concerned the spaces will not be restored without checks and enforcement, especially as acute trusts remain under pressure to increase general bed space.
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