FOLLOWING massive opposition from the public, patients and staff, Southend University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has temporarily suspended plans to pilot a scheme to pay private individuals £1,500 a month for using their homes to look after discharged patients in order to free up hospital beds.
Southend Hospital in Essex said it has ‘no intention… to support the pilot at this time’. Earlier, it had announced that a pilot trial would see around 30 patients waiting for discharge from hospital care stay with local residents who had a spare room.
Private healthcare start-up firm CareRooms was busy recruiting ‘hosts’ to take in people recuperating from a hospital stay. CareRooms said it would transform spare rooms and annexes with a private bathroom into ‘secure care spaces for patients who are waiting to be discharged’.
Shadow Labour minister for social care, Barbara Keeley said ‘the company is already handing out leaflets.
‘The scheme is now semi-official and has the backing of NHS England.’ Prospective hosts, who can earn up to £1,500 a month, were told that they need to pass security checks before they are approved for the scheme. They would be required to heat up three microwave meals each day and supply drinks for patients and are offered ‘host protection’ as well as a helpline and
training. The company’s website said it aims to ‘provide patients with a practical alternative to hospitals and care homes to recuperate in’.
Anna Athow BMA London vice-chair commented: ‘This plan has got to be dumped for ever! To propose that members of the public, with no healthcare training, should be recruited to care for patients leaving hospital in private homes for financial gain, is a recipe for disaster.
‘There is no way that the quality of care given can equal care provided by nurses and other health professionals in a NHS environment. Everyone knows the hidden scandals going on in private nursing homes. The drive for this is coming from NHS England, (the “privatisation” board set up by Andrew Lansley, Tory health minister under David Cameron).
‘The new CareRooms company is being set up under the auspices of NHSE’s “Clinical Entrepreneur Programme”. It is locally advised by the chairman of Mid and South Essex Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP), former deputy medical director of NHSE. The pilot is endorsed not just by Southend foundation trust hospital but by the three local CCGs and the councils of Essex and Southend.
”The attempted introduction of these dangerous private cheapskate cowboy companies which put patients at risk, are the logical result of the drive by NHSE to close acute hospital beds in England. 37,000 acute hospital beds have been lost in the last ten years and more are continuing to go in the constant hospital closures and sell offs of land and assets, of the STP reconfigurations.’