NHS Airbnb-style scheme ‘not ruled out’ by minister

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The outlook of NHS hospital patients recuperating in Airbnb-style accommodation has not been ruled out, condition minister Philip Dunne has said.

Southend Hospital had been joined to a trial where hospital patients could be discharged to people’s part with rooms.

The hospital distanced itself from the idea following valuation by politicians and health groups.

But Mr Dunne told BBC Radio 5 live he “wouldn’t without hesitation reject it” as “one’s got to trial different things”.

The pilot scheme, proposed in Essex, devise have seen some 30 hospital patients staying in shire residents’ spare rooms instead of in hospital while they waited to be dismissed.

The idea followed warnings about delays in discharges from UK medical centres.

  • Hospital backs off ‘Airbnb beds’ plan

As part of the trial, healthcare start-up CareRooms articulate it would recruit “hosts” whose properties had spare rooms or annexes with a unofficial bathroom.

Southend Hospital later said the pilot would not be promoted until certain criteria had been met.

‘New care models’

However, when inquired by the BBC’s deputy political editor John Pienaar if the idea deserved a look, trim minister MP Mr Dunne said: “Well, I wouldn’t rule it out.

“This is not national behaviour, anything innovative needs to be very carefully scrutinised and assessed preceding we proceed with it.

“But I wouldn’t, just as an immediate knee jerk, say that new fashions of care in the community are necessarily wrong.”

Mr Dunne added that the awareness had involved “people who may have had minor procedures who need a bit of help”. It could also take in B&B owners who were already medically trained and could offer conformation, he said.

But Tom Abell, deputy chief executive of Southend University Dispensary NHS Foundation Trust, said: “While we welcome and encourage new ideas and modernization, there is no intention and there never has been for the hospital to support this guide at this time.”

A ‘sticking plaster’

The idea first emerged at length week, when it sparked widespread debate.

Labour’s shadow vigour minister Justin Madders said the scheme would be a “sticking cover” for wider NHS issues, while shadow social care minister Barbara Keeley notified there were “clear safety risks”.

Ex-Labour minister Peer Clark warned that “vulnerable patients” would be allocated to homes where the play the host had no “medical expertise”.

However, Dr Harry Thirkettle, co-founder of CareRooms, explained the idea could help patients who either live alone and do not own support leave hospital sooner.

He said that some people may lay ones hands on the scheme preferable to staying in hospital.

An NHS England spokesman said it was “produce to hear innovative ideas from NHS staff”, but the idea was “a long way from being tooled” and would need to be very “carefully assessed” before being tested.

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