St Albans patients’ group raises hospital bed-blocking concerns

St Albans City Hospital

St Albans City Hospital - Credit: Archant

The problem of bed-blocking by patients has been raised at a meeting about local NHS services and the future of St Albans City Hospital.

Jac Kelly, chief executive of Watford, St Albans and Hemel Hempstead hospitals, met with St Albans and Harpenden Patient Group members at the district council’s offices on Wednesday, May 27.

She said that of the 600 inpatient beds at Watford, 16 per cent are taken up by patients fit to be discharged - dubbed ‘bed-blockers’ by the media.

Currently there are about 100 patients classed as delayed transfers of care who are fit to be discharged, but are either awaiting a placement in the community or for social care packages to be set up to enable them to return home.

A break-down showed that 57 are waiting for a community-based bed and 40 are still awaiting social care interventions.

In relation to the future of St Albans hospital, Jac said that the West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust is increasingly extending more routine treatment, for example running outpatient clinics at the weekend and providing support services such as imaging and other diagnostic services.

She added: “We are currently carrying out maintenance to the ventilation system of one of our operating theatres at St Albans but we have organised for a mobile operating theatre to be on site to ensure that patients’ treatment is not delayed and operations can still go ahead.”

Most Read

Following the meeting, the Herts Advertiser was contacted by a patient receiving regular care at St Albans, who said he was concerned to hear that some staff are paying hundreds of pounds a year to park at the Waverley Road site.

He added: “This seems to me to be scandalous and self-defeating, since the NHS is crying out for nurses and having to pay excessively for agency staff when numbers fall short.”

Jac said that eligible staff pay 0.08 per cent of their annual salary per month for a parking permit, equating to £270 annually for a mid-ranking nurse.