Home U.K Bed-blocking patients who refuse to leave hospital could face legal action

Bed-blocking patients who refuse to leave hospital could face legal action


Charities warned of unsafe discharges after reports that NHS England wants to get tough on those “with mental capacity” who do not accept other NHS-funded help.

The Health Service Journal said the guidance to trusts was sent last month.

It reported that the process “may include seeking an order for possession of the hospital bed” under civil law, but “appropriate formal notification of the process must be given to the person and their representatives/carers”.

These powers were in place before Covid but the guidance comes as the under-pressure service tries to cut delays in hospital discharges.

Patients Association chief executive Rachel Power warned that a “premature discharge is often an unsafe discharge from hospital”.

She said: “Threatening patients with legal action has to surely be the very last resort when absolutely every other option has been explored with the patient and exhausted.”

Charlotte Augst, of charities coalition National Voices, accepted services are under pressure but added: “We are also aware how unsafe it can feel for people to fear that they are being abandoned without properly agreed plans at their time of great need.”

An NHS spokesman said: “These powers already exist and are utilised in a very small number of cases, and only when all other options to support a person’s discharge have been unsuccessful.”

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