The Paris-based think-tank, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, found that so-called “bed blocking” rates in England had reached their highest levels since the Coalition took office.
The average number of days that a patient spent in hospital when they should have been discharged was 22 in August 2010, the earliest date in the OECD’s graph. But by January this year, the average had risen to 31.5 days, the equivalent of one month spent in hospital.
Andy Burnham MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, blamed the increase in cuts to council budgets for care homes and home help services.
“On David Cameron’s watch, council social care budgets have been cut to the bone,” he said.
“Older people are now getting stuck in hospital for days on end because adequate home care support isn’t available. Hospitals are under intense pressure and too many are full to bursting.”
Next week’s government spending review must address this crisis directly, he said.
The OECD report showed that 5,000 individual patients were delayed in hospital for a total of 110,000 days during August 2010. By January this year there were more than 4,000 patients delayed for far longer, 126,000 days.
Michelle Mitchell, Charity Director General of Age UK, said: “This is not just a real waste of resources, we know unnecessary and lengthy stays in hospital can seriously undermine an older person’s recovery and be profoundly upsetting for them and their families as a result.
“These figures are an insight into the increasingly bleak reality of the social care crisis where funding has failed to keep pace with demand and the system is now on the verge of collapse.
“The steep rise in the length of time people are waiting for a care home place, home care or adaptations suggests that something has gone seriously wrong in the transition from hospital to home or residential care during the time when we know social care spending has fallen so dramatically.
“The care system urgently needs an injection of funds and a long term commitment to sufficient resources so every older person gets the care they need, when they need it.”