Nationally, NHS officials are predicting a peak of COVID-positive patients being admitted to hospital in the next week and have devised ‘Operation Reset’ to make space in full-up hospitals.
The organisation has asked hospitals in the South East to clear out ‘bedblockers’ — the term used for a person ready to be discharged but who has nowhere to go outside of hospital and is occupying a sought-after bed.
At St Mary’s, 62 patients were medically fit to leave hospital on Thursday but had no care in place to be safely discharged, causing congestion on the wards.
The Isle of Wight NHS Trust, working in partnership with the Isle of Wight Council, is being told to move up to 50% of the so-called ‘bedblockers’ by the end of January. The adult social care crisis on the Island, however, has left top health bosses across the partnership concerned it cannot be achieved.
Speaking at the Isle of Wight NHS Trust board meeting on Thursday, chief operating officer Joe Smyth said he could not see how 27 patients, on average, could be moved out of hospital by the end of the month unless additional care capacity is created.
Mr Smyth said ‘bedblockers’ are taking up to 30% of the hospital’s beds, which has led to the cancellation of elective surgery and an increased wait time for patients in A&E. He apologised to those patients who had had their procedures cancelled last week and hoped to restore the programme of surgery by Monday.
Mr Smyth said he is anxious the biggest risk is yet to come, amid winter pressures and as the number of medically fit patients waiting to be discharged rises.
Darren Cattell, the trust’s new chief executive, said the hospital is taking its next steps with a degree of uncertainty, but the trust is “well prepared for whatever may be thrown at it”.
When asked about ‘Operation Reset’, the Isle of Wight Council said it was to ensure it has effective, robust systems and processes in place to meet current demand. Social care capacity is stretched to its limit, according to portfolio lead for the authority, Councillor Karl Love, cabinet member for adult social care.
Cllr Love recently accused the government of “completely failing to deliver on its promises” and said the Island has not yet ‘seen a penny’ from the £5.4 billion announced to transform adult social care in the next 3 years. He said the authority has been asking the government for help for many months but it is “not listening, or taking any action.”
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