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Hospital rules out Airbnb-style stays for recuperating patients ‘at this time’

CareRooms is planning the pilot, which would see around 30 patients waiting for discharge from hospital stay with local residents who have a spare room or annex.

A hospital linked to a trial scheme to move recuperating NHS patients into Airbnb-style private accommodation to free up beds has insisted it has no intention to support the plan “at this time”.

A company called CareRooms is planning the pilot, which would see around 30 patients waiting for discharge from hospital stay with local residents who have a spare room or annex.

CareRooms is recruiting “hosts” – who do not need any previous care experience – in Essex who could earn up to £50 a night putting up people recuperating from a hospital stay.

The company said it will transform spare rooms and annexes with a private bathroom into “secure care spaces for patients who are waiting to be discharged”.

But Labour’s shadow social care minister Barbara Keeley, who dubbed the scheme “CareBnB”, warned there were “clear safety risks” with placing responsibility for patients with strangers, adding that the pilot project was a sign social care is in crisis.

And now the hospital linked to the scheme has said it has no immediate plans to take part.

(PA Graphics)

Tom Abell, deputy chief executive of Southend University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Whilst we welcome and encourage new ideas and innovation, there is no intention and there never has been for the hospital to support this pilot at this time.

“We will never compromise the safety and quality of care for patients and we will not support this pilot until the necessary safeguarding and quality arrangements are in place and there has been full engagement and discussion with our local communities on the proposal.”

An NHS England spokesman said: “While it’s good to hear innovative ideas from NHS staff, this suggestion from an A&E doctor in Southend is a long way from being implemented and would first need to be very carefully assessed and tested.”

CareRooms co-founder Dr Harry Thirkettle earlier said the scheme is aimed at patients who need short-term accommodation either before returning home or going into long-term care.

He said there were “massive” benefits for patients who can be discharged into home-like environments instead of remaining in hospital.

Prospective hosts, who can earn up to £1,000 a month, would need to go through “vigorous” security checks before they were approved.

Meanwhile, in another sign of mounting pressures over NHS “bed-blocking”, the Conservative leader of Leicestershire County Council has hit out at Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt over targets facing councils for social care.

Nicholas Rushton described the situation as a “mess”, adding: “How long can we put up with the Secretary of State?”

He said the council faces losing £22 million after targets to provide care for patients ready to be discharged from hospital were brought forward from March to next month.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that Mr Hunt had “erred in judgment”.

“They are laudable reasons why he has done it but there would have been a lot better ways, in my view, to do it than bring forward the targets so urgently and then threaten to fine us.

“I suppose what he is trying to do is ultimately he will be able to blame us not the NHS if there are some delays in transfers of care. My message to Jeremy Hunt would be to take another look at it.”

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