More than 60 patients in North Wales waiting to be discharged into care homes due to coronavirus concerns
More than 60 people ready to be discharged from North Wales hospitals are waiting for care homes to take them in.
Mario Kreft, chair of Care Forum Wales, said the “issue around testing of patients in hospitals” for Covid-19 was behind his members’ reluctance to accept them.
Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board said there were 65 people either ready to be returned to their care homes or waiting for a care home place to be found, as of Tuesday, June 23.
Those waiting are spread evenly across the board area, with 22 in the east, 22 in the central area and 21 in the western area.
Some care providers have been refusing to take residents from hospitals, either existing or new, without a negative test for Covid-19.
It recently emerged that 1,097 patients were discharged from Welsh hospitals into care homes between March and April this year without being tested.
Several revealed how they had to “stand their ground” to get asymptomatic patients tested – fearful of introducing the virus to other vulnerable residents.
Mario Kreft MBE, chair of Care Forum Wales, said: “The issue around testing of patients in hospitals has been one of the main factors behind the reluctance of care homes to accept people from hospitals because there has to be safe discharge or as safe as it can be.
“People are naturally very worried they can bring the virus into their care homes and we’ve had enough of that already.
“There must be a testing system in place so that people being admitted are virus-free.
“The NHS is trying to get back to its core function and deal with people whose surgery has been put back because of the pandemic and Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board are desperately trying to do that.
“The fact is vulnerable people in hospital have a much higher chance of catching coronavirus just by being in hospital and care homes need to be reassured they are not bringing the disease into a setting full of equally vulnerable people.
“It is in everyone’s interest to cut the bureaucracy and get a safe discharge to the safe environment of a care home which is why a testing programme is essential.”
Betsi Cadwaladr is gearing up for a resumption of normal services – albeit socially distanced to account for the pandemic – and spare hospital beds will be needed.
Of the 65 people ready for discharge into care homes, two thirds are waiting for a permanent place to be established, while 22 are waiting to return to care homes in which they were already residing.
The Welsh Government’s latest advice on discharging people from hospital says: “Where applicable to the patient, Covid-19 test results are included in documentation that accompanies the person on discharge.
“If results are not ready in time for discharge, ensure that they are forwarded in a timely manner to the patient, GP and any care or support providers.”
The Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) has been asking Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board how many people were awaiting discharge into care homes since Monday June 15.
The enquiry came after being told by a senior clinician the numbers were “high”.
Numbers are routinely reported at daily “bed meetings” where the availability within wards is discussed in detail, including numbers awaiting discharge to care homes.
The LDRS lodged an FOI with the health board on May 22 asking how many patients were discharged into care homes between March 1 and April 15 – and how many of them were tested for Covid-19.
A response to that request was due on June 22 but has still not been received.
By Jez Hemming – Local Democracy Reporter
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