Delayed discharges from hospital are a widespread and longstanding problem that can have a significant impact on both patients’ recovery and the efficiency and effectiveness of health and care services. In England, it has become normal practice for government to provide additional one-off funding to reduce delays every winter, as the problem is particularly acute during the colder months.
The King's Fund interviewed commissioners and service providers in six local areas to find out how they experienced the process of receiving additional funds, making plans, and delivering and monitoring the plans in winter 2022–23.
Although they welcomed extra funding, they said that it came with insufficient advance notice for effective planning, sometimes having to be spent on residential care that was available at short notice rather than developing more services to support people at home. Commissioners and service providers also wanted to be able to use the funds to prevent avoidable hospital admissions, and strongly criticised burdensome monitoring requirements.
Some areas did manage to use the funding to put services in place and support the social care workforce but were not confident they were spending funding as effectively as possible.