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NHS beds “Airbnb” style

NHS beds “Airbnb” style

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Soon NHS may try out a new scheme where patients who are discharged from the hospital can recover in private houses or rented places nearby. The rents could touch up to £1,000 a month. A pilot project trying this new scheme out is underway in Essex and the startup is called CareRooms.

Experts and policy makers believe that this could save money as well as

Image Credit: Volodymyr Baleha

Image Credit: Volodymyr Baleha

help manage the bed shortages. Statistics have shown that there is a 40 percent increase in “bed blocking” in the NHS in the last one year. This means a huge number of patients who do not require hospitalization are taking up beds meaning thousands are left without hospital beds when they actually need them. An estimated 8000 deaths occur yearly due to bed blocking. As many as 6000 patients a day could be blocking the essential beds when they do not require full time hospitalization before discharge. However many healthcare professionals are far from happy with this proposition saying that untrained members of the community would now be saddled with responsibilities that are beyond their capacities.

CareRooms has also begun work in Southend and Essex in collaboration with NHS and the councils. The organization believes that this would provide a “safe and comfortable” place for recuperation from hospital stay. The hosts of these rented houses would be welcoming the patients from the hospitals who are recovering from surgery or from medical ailments that require monitoring before discharge to homes. They would be provided three microwave meals a day. According to CareRooms this scheme would especially help persons who do not have family or other persons at home to care for them during recovery.

Save Southend A&E is one of the campaign groups that is protesting against this move. The group says this move could open, “a huge can of worms for safeguarding, governance and possible financial and emotional abuse of people at their most vulnerable time”. To counter this CareRooms says that hosts would be picked after interviews and food hygiene and other issues so that vulnerable populations such as children, elderly, infirm and mentally ill patients are not put at risk. They add that those with criminal records would be barred from becoming service providers and employee records would be scanned for the potential hosts making it safer for the patients.

Harry Thirkettle, who is the medical director of CareRooms assured that safeguards would be in place and the team was working towards making this a standard practice. The pricing etc. is still not finalized said Thirkettle. Approximately £100 a night would be the rent for funders with half of it going to the hosts. Rest of it would be used for providing care services to the patient and part of it would remain with the company for profit.

The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services asked for more details before embarking on this scheme. The Care Quality Commission (CQC) also wanted more details about CareRooms before the trial could begin. The Department of Health has issued a statement saying this is a locally organized pilot trial and not a national policy.

The pilot trial involves Southend University hospital foundation trust, Southend and Castlepoint, and Rayleigh and Rochford clinical commissioning groups and the Essex county council and Southend council.

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