21.06.2024

Keir Starmer to pledge an end to the NHS bed-blocking crisis by boosting care sector

Sir will tomorrow pledge to tackle the bed-blocking crisis amid new claims that keeping patients in hospital beds they don’t need cost at least £1.7 billion last year.

Blaming the ‘eye-watering bill’ on 13 years of failure, Labour will pledge instead to boost the care sector ‘so that people can be cared for in the comfort of their own home’.

But launching Labour’s health mission, Sir Keir will tell his party that he will not ‘put the NHS on a pedestal’ and warned that along with more money, fundamental reform was also needed.

Party sources said that was a warning Labour traditionalists that greater use of the private sector was required to tackle NHS treatment backlogs.

Last night, Tory party chairman Greg Hands hit back, saying ‘Keir Starmer’s meaningless soundbites will do nothing to cut waiting lists’ and insisted ‘only the Conservatives are delivering for patients’.

Sir Keir Starmer will tomorrow pledge to tackle the NHS bed-blocking crisis (file image)

Sir Keir Starmer will tomorrow pledge to tackle the NHS bed-blocking crisis (file image)

However, in a scathing verdict on the Tory stewardship of the NHS, Labour released new figures yesterday on the scale of so-called ‘delayed discharges’ in England where patients can’t leave their hospital because there was no care available in the community.

Based on NHS statistics, Sir Keir’s party said there were more than 4.7 million such bed-blocking cases in the 12 months to March 2023 – with an average of one in seven NHS beds occupied by patients waiting to be sent home.

That figure also contributed to record-long waits for ambulances and in A & E departments last winter, Labour said.

It conceded that the Government had spent another £750 million on a delayed-discharge fund over the winter but claimed much of the cash hadn’t reached the NHS frontline until January.

Pledging to combat the problem, Labour is now pledging to improve care and increase capacity by training 7,500 more doctors and 10,000 more nurses a year.

It would also provide a new deal for care workers to help deal with the record 165,000 care vacancies through better rights at work, fair pay and proper training.

Plans to cut ‘dangerous’ A & E department waiting times will also be unveiled.

Speaking at the launch of his NHS reform plans tomorrow, Sir Keir will say the health service has played an enormous role in his life, recalling that ‘my mum was a nurse, proud to be a nurse, but she was also severely ill for most of her life’.

Based on NHS statistics, Sir Keir's party said there were more than 4.7 million such bed-blocking cases in the 12 months to March 2023 (file image)

Based on NHS statistics, Sir Keir’s party said there were more than 4.7 million such bed-blocking cases in the 12 months to March 2023 (file image)

But he will warn that improving it was not just a question of money.

He will say: ‘If all we do in the Labour Party is place the NHS on a pedestal and leave it there — that’s not good enough.’

But Mr Hands contrasted Labour’s ‘just shouting from the side-lines’ to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s pledge to cut NHS waiting lists as one of his five priorities for 2023.

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