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Social care bosses say delayed discharges from Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital during winter crisis were justified

Ambulances queuing at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital A&E department. in December. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Ambulances queuing at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital A&E department. in December. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2017

Targets to get people discharged from the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital were missed during the winter crisis.

Bill Borrett, chairman of Norfolk County Council's adult social care committee. Pic: Norfolk Conservatives.Bill Borrett, chairman of Norfolk County Council's adult social care committee. Pic: Norfolk Conservatives.

But social services bosses said it was more important that proper care packages were in place for people, before they left NHS care.

According to new figures, the number of social care-related delayed discharges from the NNUH during December was 315 days above the benchmarked target of 225.

But James Bullion, director of adult social services at Norfolk County Council said he would rather see his social workers making the correct decisions over people’s care on leaving hospital, than them becoming part of what he described as a “sausage machine”- where boxes are ticked to get people out.

He said: “One of our issues around delayed discharge is how we work with people as they are going through the hospital system. It’s not as efficient as it should be.

James Bullion, director of adult social services at Norfolk County Council. Picture Norfolk County CouncilJames Bullion, director of adult social services at Norfolk County Council. Picture Norfolk County Council

“That’s leading to a timing issue about the speed at which can assess people. But we don’t want to be dragged into a sausage machine of ticking boxes.

“I ask our social workers to take time with patients and get to know them and their needs before their care package is put in place and that can cause more delays in the system. That means we end up at the sharp end of the bottle necks in hospital.”

The issue was discussed at a meeting of Norfolk County Council’s adult social care committee today, where committee chairman Bill Borrett said: “Us taking that time reduces the chances of readmission. It might cause problems with the statistics on the day, but it’s better overall.”

During the winter pressures, Norfolk County Council paid financial incentives to residential homes and home care providers to care for people who had been discharged.

That cost the council, which is having to make £27m of savings in the adult social care department in 2018/19, about £20,000.

But Mr Bullion said: “The incentives were really about recognising that independent care homes and home care agencies sometimes needed one off payments.

“For those providers that might have helped get an extra member of staff in place, which could have meant a patient got a Saturday discharge or got to go home on a Sunday afternoon.”

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