The Government is making available an additional £50 million in capital funding to expand hospital discharge lounges and ambulance hubs. The new money will create new ambulance hubs where vehicles can manoeuvre more easily to avoid delays handing over patients. The funding will also expand discharge lounges in NHS Trusts, areas where patients can be moved out of acute beds while they wait to be discharged, freeing up beds in the meantime.
This is part of a package of measures announced on 9 January which included £250 million to buy thousands of places in care homes and other settings to free up beds in hospitals. Speaking in Parliament, Health Secretary Steve Barclay said,
“When that is combined with the ramping up of the £500 million discharge funding, which will unblock an estimated 1,000 to 2,000 delayed discharge cases, capacity on wards will be freed up, which will in turn enable patients admitted by emergency departments to move towards, which in turn unblocks ambulance delays.”
Responding to the Health Secretary’s statement, interim Chief Executive of NHS Providers said, “While an extra £50m in capital funding to expand hospital discharge lounges and ambulance hubs to minimise delays handing over patients sounds good in theory, questions will rightly be asked about how quickly and efficiently the NHS estate can be restructured to implement these changes given the pressures we are being confronted with right now.
“Trusts will also be seeking urgent reassurances that they will be given the freedom and flexibility to spend this capital funding on innovations and priorities locally to help best minimise handover delays.”
This announcement comes in the same week as paramedics go out on strike. More than 10,000 ambulance members of the GMB union will walk out overpay on Wednesday 11 January. They will be joined by UNISON ambulance workers. Unite ambulance workers will strike on 23 January across the West Midlands, Northwest, Northeast, East Midlands and Wales.