CONCERNS have been raised about ‘bed blocking’ at the Burnley General and Royal Blackburn hospitals after statistics showed a spike in the number of patients whose discharge was delayed.

NHS figures showed that delayed transfers of care led to 2,000 ‘lost bed days’ at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust in June, which was the third highest figure in England despite ELHT only being a medium-sized trust.

This was up from only 1,010 in the previous month.

Most of the delays were due to assessments not being carried out or because of patient and family choice.

Delayed transfers of care, dubbed bed blocking, can cause significant problems leaving staff struggling to find beds for new patients, and lacking time to provide adequate care for everyone on the wards.

Pete Rowe, non-executive director, said: “We hear stories about patients who have been delayed for many days where it’s clear they could and should be moved.

“The human impact on people who know they should have gone somewhere else is very severe.”

Bosses said there has been a drive to increase the scrutiny of delayed transfers, which has led to the huge increase in reported cases, but acknowledged that the figures have now shown the true extent of the problem.

Jonathan Wood, deputy chief executive, added: “The underlying position was perhaps worse than we thought.

“Some delays are due to us and some of them are due to other organisations... but there are better and safer places for these patients to be.”

Board members said there are now plans being drawn up by the trust and local clinical commissioning groups to try and reduce the number of delays.