£200 Pledged to Ease Hospital Discharging Delays
Patients suffering from Sickle Cell Disease and other illnesses promised delays will drop in coming weeks
The NHS is in a time of crisis; limping out of more than two years in the Pandemic, made worse by underfunding, a damning winter rife with flu and other illnesses, and a Christmastime strike. Many different patient communities are affected, including several that Sanius focuses on – for instance patients who suffer from Sickle Cell Disease. Delays and a lack of space in hospitals mean that people are not getting the treatment they need quick enough.
There are threats of further delays in the future, with nurses possibly going back on strike later in the month and junior doctors following in March – Health Secretary Steve Barclay is set to meet with Union representatives next Monday to discuss the matter. Amongst all of this, news from the PM of a budget boost last week must have been music to the ears of the NHS Confederation, not to mention those in need of medical treatment.
The grim reality of these delays is that patients are suffering. Although guidelines state pain relief should be administered to someone suffering acute pain from Sickle Cell Disease within 20 minutes, this is often pushed back to as much as 120 minutes. Doctor Sanne Lugthart commented on the fact that initial treatment is ‘often delayed’, or ‘given very infrequently.’ This is largely due to the delays and general lack of funds and manpower available to the NHS at this time.
Preparing for a dark winter
Barclay appears fully aware of the difficulties that lie ahead for his government and the NHS, and commented on the need to prepare for the coming winter. Whether he will help patients and the NHS throughout the winter is yet to be seen.
‘Winter is always hard for the NHS and social care, and this year especially with flu in high circulation. That’s why we provided the £500 million Adult Social Care Discharge Fund earlier in the winter’.
Following this announcement, the NHS Confederation confirmed another £200 million would be given in funds to help battle the challenges the NHS are currently facing. The decision could not have come soon enough, as only last week it was seriously discussed whether to put patients into hotels, in a desperate bid to free up space in hospitals. A report in 2005 cited many Britons who have had multiple hospital admissions due to SCD, or even have died from the disease, came from lower socio-economic areas, a clear sign that extra funding is desperately needed.
This money is in addition to the £500 million promised in September that is to be used to help Adult Social Care. The NHS began several campaigns at this time, including campaigns to help boost public awareness of Sickle Cell Disease, a disease often ignored or marginalised – to try and combat this marginalisation Sanius Health launched possibly the largest ever SCD awareness campaign in the 150-year history of the disease at the end of last year.
Furthermore, there is an added £50 million of funds that has been announced by the Department of Health and Social Care to upgrade ambulance hubs, in order to speed up handovers. As queues can be made worse due to the lack of physical space, this plan will hopefully help to avoid delays in handing over patients. As a final step, Barclay also argued he would begin:
‘trialling six National Discharge Frontrunners – innovative, quick solutions which could reduce discharge delays, moving patients from hospital to home more quickly.’
Benefits of the fund
The main aim of the fund is to help people who no longer need to be in hospital to leave, and free up space for those with more serious illnesses. Minister for Care, Helen Whately, said:
‘Getting people out of hospital on time is more important than ever. It’s good for patients and it helps hospitals make space for those who need urgent care’.
By getting non-essential patients out of beds, they can be admitted more quickly to wards and out of A&E, reducing pressure on the emergency departments.
The plan follows a crisis meeting between the PM, the Health Secretary, and senior members of the NHS last Saturday. The crisis revolves around some 13,000 patients who are well enough to be discharged, but still in need of some care before they can go home. The fund will mean that local beds in (primarily) care homes can be bought, where patients can move and continue their recovery whilst still getting treatment. This will hopefully ease the congestion in the hospitals.
The government has promised up to £14.1 billion of additional funding over the next two years to tackle the crisis backlog and improve care – £7.5 billion of that is for adult social care and discharge. Further news on the project is expected from Health Secretary Steve Barclay in the coming days. Will these measures produce real benefits for the Sanius Health Community?
An empty promise or a step in the right direction?
There is of course debate as to whether this is too little too late, considering the government was warned of the crisis and did little or nothing to prevent it. Chief Executive of the NHS Confederation Matthew Taylor commented on the ‘widely acknowledged’ fact that many of the issues had been building up over the last decade, despite the fact that the NHS Confederation and many other organisations had ‘long been warning about what [was] coming’. He continued that it was only six months ago that Britain had a PM boasting social care was ‘sorted’.
NHS Chief Executive Amanda Pritchard corroborated this concern, speaking of delays and neglectful treatment of patients, like those in the Sickle Cell Disease community, causing them to delay or even abandon coming in altogether. Taylor did show support for the new government however, commending their taking responsibility for the NHS’s ‘single biggest challenge’, which is a good sign for the future.
Concerns over empty promises
These promises can hold hope for the SCD community – or despair, should they not be fulfilled. It is hoped there will be a more organised approach to this fund than there was to the £500 million pledged in September; the first £200 million pledged did not arrive until mid December, which obviously slowed things down dramatically, as staff waited for the boost in funding. The remaining £300 is still in the ether. Mike Padgham, Chair of the Independent Care Group, argued:
‘The stark reality is local systems needed that money months ago for it to make any difference this winter.’
Despite positive feedback at this promised windfall, Sunak was deemed ‘delusional’ after he denied the NHS was in a crisis, and insisted it had money enough to cope with the current issues.
A report by the Guardian claimed 50% of all patients suffering from SCD receive ‘poor treatment’. Although it is well documented that racism can often play a part in the lack of good treatment for SCD patients, hospital delays would certainly have been a factor as well.
Finally, Martin Green, Chief Executive of Care England, argued homes should be paid ‘at least ‘£1,500’ per patient per week, due to the extra manpower and admin that would follow a plan of such magnitude to be implemented in such a short timeframe. This amount is around double the usual council rate.
It remains to be seen how this will affect the SCD community. Currently they are not even on the prescription payment exemption list. If the NHS is being promised an influx of money, some support needs to go to SCD.
Where there are gaps in support, due to a lack of knowledge, awareness, or something more sinister like racial prejudice, Sanius Health steps in by giving patients and the general community better insight.
Using their pioneering technology Sanius can help patients to see a much clearer idea of their health, often without the admin and delays that come with constant trips to hospital.
Will it work?
Overall, the response to this latest news has been positive. In a time of serious strain for the country, and especially the NHS, this news of further funding seems a good step to getting the capsized ship righted again. Sanius Health is revolutionising the way patients can receive treatment, but they can only do so much; funding of this nature will go a long way to improving the lives of those suffering from SCD and similar illnesses.
To find out more about Sanius Health, visit, https://saniushealth.com/