COMMUNITY hospitals should be used “correctly” to reduce the amount of patients sitting in hospital beds when they do not need to be – as latest figures reveal the county was one of the worst for discharging patients who were fit to leave hospital.

Figures show Worcestershire ranked 150th out of 152 authorities across the country in 2017/18 for the number of patients per 100,000 population who are occupying beds in hospital when they do not need to be – when the county council and the hospital trusts share the responsibility of getting the patient out of hospital.

Councillor John Smith, cabinet member for health and wellbeing at Worcestershire County Council, said the county’s hospital trusts do not make the full use of community hospitals to address the delay.

Speaking to the county council’s adult care and wellbeing overview and scrutiny panel, Cllr Smith said: “The community hospital is an important link in all of this and it is not being used correctly.

“We keep banging on about that from where we live.

“We have one of the best community hospitals [in Evesham] probably in the country and it is not being used correctly.”

As of February this year, almost 13 patients per 100,000 people in the county occupied beds in hospitals when they should have been discharged – slightly higher than the national average of 12.3 people and above the county’s target.

The current target for Worcestershire is 12.5 patients per 100,000 population.

Hospital and adult social care bosses admitted there has been a significant focus by NHS England on reducing the number of delays at the acute trust – which has seen reductions – but numbers remain higher for the health and care trust.

NHS England figures showed that in February, patients at the Worcestershire Health and Care Trust spent a total of 1,041 days waiting to be discharged or transferred to a different care facility.

Adult care bosses admitted the number of care home spaces was not a problem in Worcestershire but getting patients into the care home often proved difficult – largely due to the availability of assessments – which led to significant delays.

At the meeting, the health and care trust said, as of May 10, 25 of its patients were sitting in beds when they should have been discharged. No figures could be provided for the acute trust.