Would you welcome a stranger into your home? Would you have a spare room set aside for them? Perhaps not. But what if you were paid to do so? This is what some hospital bosses are considering to relieve overcrowding in hospital wards, that patients do their recuperating in private homes, rather than in the hospital. You offer a room if you have one available, and the hospital rents it from you for a patient. It is like an airbnb for hospitals.
On the face of it, this seems like a good idea. Hospital overcrowding is lessened, home owners get a bit of spare cash, the recuperating patient gets a bit of company … everyone’s happy. Patients staying out of hospitals mean that the backlog of operations can be cleared more quickly, resulting in a better streamlined NHS that benefits every citizen.
This idea is being piloted by the startup CareRooms. “Hosts”, who do not necessarily need to have previous experience in healthcare, could earn £50 a night and up to maximum of £1000 a month putting up local residents who are awaiting discharge from hospital. The pilot will start with 30 patients and the hope is that this will expand.
AgeUK claims that patients were being “marooned” in hospitals, taking up beds while 2.2 million days are lost annually to delayed transfers of care.
The specifics, however, do not seem to hold up to scrutiny. Who is responsible for the overall welfare of the patient? Once a patient is transferred to this “care” home, the responsibility of medical care is devolved to someone with basic first-aid training.
Prospective hosts are also required to heat up three microwave meals each day and supply drinks. Unfortunately it opens the issues of safeguarding, governance and possible financial and emotional abuse of people at their most vulnerable time.
The recuperating patients will “get access to a 24-hour call centre, tele-medical GP and promised GP consultation within four hours.”
The underlying question, though, is would you, though, want your loved ones to be put through this kind of care?
This is cost-cutting at its worst. The NHS is cutting costs, cutting ties and cutting responsibilities for those supposedly under its care. It would be a sad day if this kind of devolved responsibility plan became approved.