Hospital bed-blocking occurs when hospital patients are ready to be discharged to a nursing home, but no place is available, so that hospital care acts as a more costly substitute for long-term care. We investigate the extent to which greater supply of nursing home beds or lower prices can reduce hospital bed-blocking using a new Local Authority (LA) level administrative data from England on hospital delayed discharges in 2009-2013. The results suggest that delayed discharges respond to the availability of care home beds, but the effect is modest: an increase in care home beds by 10% (250 additional beds per LA) would reduce social care delayed discharges by about 6-9%. We also find strong evidence of spillover effects across LAs: more care home beds or fewer patients aged over 65 years in nearby LAs are associated with fewer delayed discharges.
Keywords: bed blocking; delayed discharges; long-term care; nursing and care homes; substitution.
© 2015 The Authors. Health Economics Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.