NHS offers families one-off payment of up to £1,200 to help get relatives out of packed hospitals

Latest figures show 261 medically fit patients are stuck in hospital beds at Bristol’s two hospital trusts

Families in the Bristol region are being offered up to £1,200 to help get relatives stuck in hospital back home as part of a drastic move by the NHS to free up beds.

The idea comes as hospitals in the region continue to feel the pressure with both of Bristol’s hospital trusts reporting bed occupancy rates of above 95% in the week up to February 20.

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This is not helped by ‘workforce constraints’ in the health and care system which mean there are difficulties discharging hospital patients who may need continued care and support once they leave.

The one-off payment could be used by families to help with shopping, meal preparation, transport and even dog walking, say Healthier Together, the group behind the grant scheme which is a partnership of NHS bodies in the region,

It is available for individuals, family members, friends and voluntary advocates.

Families could receive up to £1.2k to help get loved ones out of hospital in the Bristol region

The scheme, called Discharge Support Grant, started in February, and is due to run until the end of March.

Peter Brindle, medical director at NHS Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, said : “We’re launching this pilot as the local health and care system remains in its highest state of alert.

“We need to do everything we can to ensure that hospital beds are available to those that need hospital care the most.

“While the grant will not enable regulated care for our more vulnerable people, it will provide extra resources to a large proportion of people who are medically well and ready to leave hospital, but who might just need short-term help so they can get back on their feet.”

Pressure on hospitals

The region’s hospitals remain on the highest level alert after it was declared in November due to increased demand and a growing backlog of patients.

The pressure on the system can be seen in latest figures for the week up February 20.

At North Bristol NHS Trust, the occupancy rate for adult general and acute beds was 97.7% over the week, while at University Hospitals of Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust it was 95.9%.

On one day, February 17, at North Bristol NHS Trust’s Southmead Hospital, all 855 adult general and acute beds were occupied.

Separate figures also show that on February 20, 145 patients aged over 18, excluding paediatrics and maternity, no longer fitted the criteria to remain under care at Southmead Hospital.

And at University Hospitals of Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust, 116 were in the same category on February 20.

In January, UHBWT chief executive Robert Woolley said the trust was having problems discharging patients into social care or back into their homes because of ‘workforce constraints on all partners in the health and care system’.

He added: “That is backing up then in terms of our access to our beds in hospital.”

What is being done locally

In an attempt to ease the strain, the NHS has taken some actions including the opening of a makeshift ‘care facility’ at The Bristol Hotel in Bristol city centre.

The facility is for up to 30 people who are moved from hospitals to free up beds.

Healthier Together has also expanded its digital services so more people with Covid-19 can recover from the virus at home. To date, this service has helped more than 900 people in the region.

The area’s 111 call centre team has also been made bigger to include a greater range of clinical professionals.

How to apply for the Discharge Support Grant

The Discharge Support Grant is being managed by Sirona Care and Health’s Partner 2 Care team, and is funded by the Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire CCG.

They are for people assessed as having no clinical reason to remain in hospital, but who may need extra help to allow them to be discharged.

The grants range from £200 to £1,200.

They can cover shopping, household tasks, meal preparation, cleaning, transport, childcare, white goods, technology and even dog walkers.

To apply and find out more information, visit this web page.