HC Deb 18 March 1997 vol 292 cc578-9W
24. Mr. Amess

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on bed blocking. [19185]

Mr. Burns

We have consistently emphasised the need for health and local authorities to work closely together in this area. The implementation of the community care reforms required health authorities and local authorities to reach agreements about arrangements for hospital discharge. It is also a key element of the work which health authorities undertook to implement the guidance on national health service responsibilities for continuing care.

On 28 November 1996, we announced the continuing care challenge fund which is targeted at initiatives which aim to alleviate delays in discharge by avoiding inappropriate admissions to acute hospitals, facilitating discharge following rehabilitation and avoiding unnecessary readmissions by ensuring the availability of support at home. A total of £16 million has been allocated to 69 health authorities in 1996–97 and £20 million, matched by £40 million from health and/or local authorities will be available to 95 health authorities in 1997–98.