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NHS 'faking' numbers on bed blocking blame, says boss of adult social care

PUBLISHED: 14:02 14 March 2019 | UPDATED: 16:10 14 March 2019

Figures for delayed transfers of care from hospitals frustrated Norfolk Council Council bosses. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto/VILevi

Figures for delayed transfers of care from hospitals frustrated Norfolk Council Council bosses. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto/VILevi

VILevi

NHS bosses were accused of 'faking the numbers' by the head of Norfolk County Council's adult social care committee, who said the council was being unfairly blamed for delayed transfers of care from hospital.

James Bullion, director of adult social services at Norfolk County Council. Pic: Norfolk County Council.James Bullion, director of adult social services at Norfolk County Council. Pic: Norfolk County Council.

Each month, NHS England publishes figures about so-called bed blocking, in which they state whether a delay was down to the NHS, social care or both.

Those figures are collated for the county’s various hospitals and trusts at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital - but until now they were not given to the council for verification before submission to NHS England.

And, at a meeting of the county council’s adult social care committee, James Bullion, director of adult social care, spoke of his frustration that the brunt of blame was being attributed to issues with social care.

Mr Bullion said: “I’m afraid the NHS are still faking the numbers. We still have problems with social care having numbers attributed to it.”

He said the council had been negotiating with the NHS for more than 18 months, so the picture could be better reflected and that there had been a peer review to explore the issue.

Mr Bullion said not having correct figures made it difficult to properly manage care - and decide where to direct resources.

Speaking after the meeting, he estimated 200 days of delayed transfers were wrongly attributed to social care.

He said: “These are real people and if you are in a position of focusing on who to blame, you are not focusing on the people and the real issues.

“If we’re in a situation where we have greater confidence in the numbers, we will be better able to hold ourselves to account for initiatives which will reduce the overall delays.”

But Mr Bullion said changes were about to be made which he hoped would paint a fairer picture.

Speaking on behalf of the NHS in Norfolk and Waveney, Mark Burgis, from NHS North Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We all recognise our data needs to be as accurate as possible so we can spot problems and fix them together as ‘one’ system.

“With this in mind, the NHS and adult social care have recently agreed some clearer protocols in the way we record data. In this way we shall continue to work in partnership to improve care for local people.”

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