AN NHS hospital has pulled out of an Airbnb-style scheme to put up recovering patients in strangers’ homes after the plans faced a backlash over safety risks.
Southend University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, which had been set to pilot the scheme, said it had no intention of taking part as the plans could “compromise the safety and quality of care of patients.”
It comes after plans emerged on Wednesday for patients to be moved into locals’ homes as a way to ease “bed-blocking” on busy wards.
In return for fees of up to £1,000 a month, hosts, who would not need any care experience, in Essex are asked to “welcome the patient, cook three microwave meals a day and offer conversation,” according to the Health Service Journal.
Deputy chief executive of the Southend Hospital Tom Abel said in a statement: “We will never compromise the safety and quality of care of patients, and we will not support this pilot until the necessary safeguarding and quality arrangements are in place and there’s been full engagements and discussion with our communities on the proposal.”
Start-up company CareRooms’ scheme was due to see 30 patients waiting for discharge from hospital staying with local residents who have a spare room or annex.
But critics were quick to point out the flaws of such a scheme. Health campaigners warned that putting patients in strangers’ homes could leave them vulnerable to abuse.
A Save Southend A&E campaign spokesman said that offering beds in people’s homes opens a “huge can of worms” for safeguarding, governance and abuse of people at their most vulnerable time.
Labour’s shadow social care minister Barbara Keeley branded the idea as “terrifying,” warning that there were “clear safety risks.”
The pilot project was a sign social care is in crisis, she added.
CareRooms co-founder Harry Thirkettle — an A&E doctor — has said prospective hosts would need to go through “vigorous” security checks before they were approved.
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.”