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Tens of thousands of elderly patients could be sent to 'hospital hotels' to free up bedsThe model is based on a system widely used in ScandinaviaNew mothers and stroke patients could also use such services
01:33 GMT, 23 April 2013
01:33 GMT, 23 April 2013
Tens of thousands of elderly patients could be sent to hotels to recover from illnesses under plans being considered by the Government to free up hospital beds.
New mothers and stroke patients could also use such services, which would be run by private hotel chains and allow more flexible visiting hours.
The model, based on a system widely used in Scandinavia, will be reviewed formally by NHS England, the body responsible for recommending how local doctors' groups should provide for their patients, at the request of health minister Earl Howe.
Elderly patients could be sent to hotels to recover from illnesses under plans being considered by the Government
The 'patient hotels' would be built in the grounds of hospitals and would be staffed by nurses.
Relatives would be able to stay in a nearby room, and patients would benefit from en-suite facilities, televisions and room service.
Patients who would use such a service would be those who no longer require the specialist medical attention that a hospital provides but who need more support than can be given at home.
This applies to many elderly people who may have suffered a fall, have dementia or are waiting for a place in a nursing home.
An estimated 30,000 patients each year are kept in hospital despite being well enough to be discharged
An estimated 30,000 patients each year are kept in hospital despite being well enough to be discharged.
The problem – known as bed-blocking – happens when support from social care or district nursing is not available in the community for vulnerable patients.
According to government estimates, such a patient costs the NHS about 260 a day.
Advocates of the plan say the cost of accommodating a patient in a hotel, even one staffed by trained carers and fitted with medical equipment, would be significantly lower.
Lord Howe said he was studying the proposals because the care of older people in the community was an 'issue of vital importance to our society'.
In a letter to Baroness Greengross, a crossbench peer who has investigated the issue, he said he was examining whether 'the Scandinavian model of hospital hotels' could provide care to the elderly in England.
A Department of Health spokesman said: 'Proposals for health hotels were submitted to the Department by Baroness Greengross.
Ministers have forwarded the proposals to NHS England so they can review them.'