Herts Advertiser article on health services prompts St Albans MP to raise issue in Parliament

St Albans MP Anne Main

St Albans MP Anne Main - Credit: Archant

A coroner’s concerns about the ‘daft’ fragmentation of health services have been raised in Parliament by St Albans MP Anne Main.

During her first speech upon returning to Parliament since her re-election, Mrs Main referred to a Herts Advertiser front page story on Herts Coroner Edward Thomas.

Last month he criticised changes to health services which were making it difficult to investigate deaths.

Mr Thomas was speaking out during an inquest into an elderly man who died after undergoing two operations at Watford Hospital.

After his first operation, on his hip, the 89-year-old St Albans man had suffered a fall and fractured his leg while recuperating and undergoing rehabilitation at Hemel Hempstead Hospital.

Confusingly, while the majority of the hospital’s wards are under West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust (WHHT), St Peter’s ward, to which the man was discharged, is the responsibility of Herts Community NHS Trust (HCT).

Mr Thomas also voiced concerns about the impact of ‘bed blockers’ upon over-stretched staff resources and there was discussion with a witness representing HCT about delays in social care packages to free up beds for new patients.

Most Read

Mrs Main told Parliament that such delays must be stopped because of the impact upon local hospital care.

She said: “There is a real problem of people being kept in hospital beds and not receiving care packages.

“When they do receive a package, the hospital cannot wait to get rid of them. There is no linking up in the system.”

Mrs Main said: “The coroner was really unhappy about this. He said that the government needed to tackle this as it was difficult to know who to contact for reports.”

She pointed out: “When someone dies, it is difficult to know whether that has been the result of poor healthcare or poor social care.

“It is too easy for patients to languish in hospital beds while the local authority drags its feet.

“Care packages are not being put in place quickly enough. In St Albans, which is covered by the WHHT, up to 48 per cent of all acute beds at any one time have been occupied by patients who could have been dealt with in an alternative way.”

Patients could have been discharged to their own homes, or a less acute bed.

Mrs Main urged the government to “tackle the problem” as a priority.