UK hospitals have resorted to discharging patients into hotels, in a bid to free up beds and ease the current bed-blocking crisis.
NHS trusts in the south-west of England are using “care hotels” to offload patients who no longer require urgent treatment but remain in need of social care.
In Plymouth, Derriford Hospital is discharging patients to the city’s largest hotel.
The NHS is using 40 rooms at the eight-storey Leonardo Hotel, formerly known as the Jurys Inn, for patients who are well enough to leave a ward but don’t have anywhere they can be cared for.
The rooms are used by people who are medically fit but do not have enough support at home to prevent them from being readmitted, Plymouth Live reports. The NHS believes this will help prevent further clogging up of an already under-pressure hospital.
The move comes amid high demand for hospital services and ongoing shortages of social care, which has resulted in so-called “bed blocking” and delays in hospital admissions. NHS England national medical director Professor Sir Stephen Powis said the health service was enduring “extreme pressure this winter”.
It now emerges NHS trusts providing acute care in Devon, Cornwall and Bristol, along with surrounding areas including Plymouth, this week began moving patients who are medically fit to leave into hotels, but other regions have used the so-called “care hotels” previously. And NHS Devon said it has been using care hotels since Covid-hit 2020.
It confirmed the 247-room Leonardo Hotel was the only one in the city being used at present. The average length of stay for patients is 13 days.
NHS Cornwall is also using beds in the hotel. Two-self contained floors are being used, with 30 rooms for Devon patients and 10 for those from East Cornwall.
A spokesperson for NHS Devon said: “Care hotels are just one of many positive measures health and care partners have put in place to reduce pressure on busy health services this winter.
“They are not used for hospital patients and are used to provide social care for people who are medically fit and do not require hospital care but do need additional living support after a stay in hospital or to prevent them from needing to be admitted.
“Support is provided by a Care Quality Commission registered care agency, which complies with all infection prevention and control measures; protecting both care hotel and hotel guests.
“A number of guests have been supported to regain their independence and return home without the need for care. Feedback from guests has been very positive, with praise for the staff, the accommodation and the ability to be more independent and socialise with other care hotel residents.”
Meanwhile, Prof Powis said patients across the NHS were being discharged into care homes, their own homes and to virtual wards at home, with medical monitoring.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We have used hotels in the past, it’s one of a number of … things that we can use to improve discharge – clearly has to be appropriate, clearly it has to be safe.”
He said hotels “will be one component, but probably a small component in particular areas of our overall policy to discharge” medically fit patients.