New plan to help reduce “Bed Blocking”

The BHTA (British Healthcare Trades Association) has produced a new paper in support of the NHS aim of reducing Delayed Transfer of Care, commonly referred to as ‘bed blocking’.

The BHTA says that procurement policies could be improved in order to speed up delivery of community equipment and enable people to leave hospital more quickly. It wants to see delayed discharges treated as an emergency, with needs for equipment quickly identified, and generally provided within five days. The paper says that improving the management of Loan Stock Equipment could also help to reduce delayed transfers.

The principle of combining health and care budgets is strongly supported. The paper points to examples of good practice integrating services in areas such as Manchester, Kent and Norfolk. In the cases cited in the paper, there is clear evidence that better integration provides better care and cuts costs.

It is also suggested that tax incentives should be introduced to encourage people purchasing homes with a view to retirement to plan ahead and make their homes more accessible in anticipation of future needs. Such homes could be adapted at purchase to provide, for example, for the introduction of a stairlift in future.

The BHTA initiative follows a call at the NHS Confederation conference in June when Simon Stevens and Ian Dalton, the Chief Executives of NHS England and NHS Improvement, announced their plans to improve patient care by cutting long hospital stays.

BHTA Director of Communications Lord Chris Rennard said:

“Delayed transfer of care causes distress for patients and their families and is a particular problem for many older people, especially those who are frail and may have dementia. Their conditions often deteriorate whilst in hospital and there can be significant muscle wastage due to lack of physical activity”.

The BHTA Director General Mandie Lavin has written to Simon Stevens, NHS Chief Executive, to say:

“More rapid assessment of the need for community equipment and a more rapid procurement process could assist significantly to reduce the scale of the problem to everyone’s benefit. When needs have been assessed, tenders for the necessary equipment are very largely based upon price (inevitably) and to a lesser degree on quality. But speed of delivery and the opportunity to reduce ‘bed blocking’ should also be a significant priority. We believe that where there is an issue of ‘delayed discharge’ then the supply of equipment should generally be treated as an emergency”.

Download your copy today:  Action on Delayed Transfer of Care


  1. The British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA) is one of the UK`s oldest and largest healthcare associations (founded in 1917). Its membership – of almost 500 companies employing over 17,000 people – comprises both large and small businesses across the many non-pharmaceutical and assistive technology sectors of the healthcare industry, manufacturing, supplying and serving those with special physical needs and specialist healthcare areas, too.
  2.  This paper was produced by a team led by Phil Rice, Chair of the BHTA’s Stairlift & Access Section.
  3. The NHS paper referred to is to be found here:


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