A report from the Nuffield Trust issued today (Thursday 10 December) has found that just 3.6 per cent of patients account for over a third of hospital beds.
These patients are likely to be older people who have finished their hospital treatment, but are unable to be discharged to community services. The report authors highlighted that extra community support targeted at older people could help improve the system.
Last year, the NHS reached crisis point, and many hospitals declared major incidents, despite dedicated extra funding from the Department of Health.
Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive at Alzheimer's Society, said:
'The NHS is in danger of reaching breaking point. We cannot afford to be in a situation where hospitals are forced to refuse admissions because beds are occupied by people with dementia, who would be better supported in the community.
'We know a quarter of hospital beds are occupied by people with dementia, who are often unable to leave because adequate support in the community isn’t in place for them. When they are able to leave, they are frequently in worse health than when they arrived. These extra bed days cost the NHS £265 million a year.
'You cannot make the NHS safe or sustainable without investing in social care. Hospitals pick up the pieces when our public services fail to support older people properly in the community. Too often, people go from their home, into hospital, and then into a care home while their health declines along the way. This can be avoided, but we urgently need to improve our approach and attitudes towards intermediate care.'