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Personal Alarms can improve NHS Bed-Blocking Crisis

• Written by Josh


In recent months, we've all heard concerning stories about high levels of strain on the NHS. The same problems seem to appear each year, getting worse in the winter months. Bed-blocking and long waiting times are growing concerns. People are staying in hospital much longer, even if they have been medically cleared, which leads to a lack of beds for incoming patients.

An ageing population means that the number of people being taken to hospital, via A&E or for scheduled operations, is on the rise. A lack of beds and increasing waiting times are putting their well-being at risk.

In today’s post we’ll outline the current issues faced by NHS hospitals across the country, before offering a life-saving solution: The Personal Alarm Service.


Bed-blocking is another term for Delayed Transfers of Care. This is when patients are medically ready to leave hospital but unable to be discharged as they don’t have any organised care in place. This primarily affects elderly patients and those with disabilities. In most cases, the problem of bed-blocking stems from cuts to social care and a lack of relatives or carers on hand to help.

The knock-on effects of bed-blocking can be serious. For patients who are medically fit to leave, staying in hospital longer than necessary can have a severe impact on recovery, confidence, and mental health. In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the infection risk of a long hospital stay is an additional concern. Furthermore, bed-blocking leads to overcrowded A&E departments. This can see patients being left in hallways, waiting rooms, and even in ambulances outside the hospital.

This not only puts patients at risk, but it also costs the NHS valuable money that could be spent elsewhere to improve medicine and equipment. Recent statistics showed:

  • 148,000 bed days were lost to bed-blocking in December 2019.
  • This was 15% higher than the figure from December 2018.
  • In contrast, the 2012 monthly average of days lost to bed-blocking was 114,000

This alarming increase could be a result of austerity cuts, which have hit adult social care significantly.

Waiting Times

With patients staying in hospital for longer, waiting times for incoming patients also increase.

Statistics reveal that hospital waiting times in the UK have hit their worst levels since targets were set. As of November 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic, the figures were already concerning:

  • The NHS aims to see 95% of A&E patients within four hours. This target has not been met at a national level since 2013-14.
  • In 2018-19 more than 300,000 people waited 12 hours or more in A&E.
  • In December 2017, 85.1% of patients waited longer that four hours to be seen in A&E departments.


Relieving the Strain on Hospitals

As we’ve already discussed, older people and those with disabilities are most at risk of having to stay in hospital longer than medically necessary, usually due to a lack of organised care at home and in the community.

This is where our Personal Alarm service can help. Our system allows older, frail and disabled people to continue living safely and independently at home, rather than waiting for a social care referral or having to find the funds for private care.

The Lifeline Alarm provides 24-hour support with very little intrusion. It consists of a base unit box and a little pendant which you can wear around your wrist or neck. Our Response Team (given Platinum Accreditation by the TSA) are open 24/7, 365 days a year to monitor each alarm user and send help quickly when they need it.

How the Lifeline Alarm Works

The service works in the following way:

  • If you feel unwell at home or have a fall, simply press the red button on your pendant or alarm base unit.
  • The Response Team will communicate with you over the base unit loudspeaker, assessing the situation and reassuring you before taking appropriate action.
  • They will call for your emergency contacts (family, friends and neighbours), asking for them to visit you urgently. If you require medical attention, they will also contact the emergency services.
  • Our Response Team will have your medical history on-hand and will pass this information on to the paramedics – putting them in the best possible position to help once they arrive on the scene.

The pendant is waterproof, which means you can wear it safely in the bath or shower. Furthermore, its impressive 100 metre range means you can use it outside in the garden. The peace of mind an alarm provides can be life-changing for older people and those with disabilities, as well as their loved ones.

Of course, this also reduces the pressure on our hospitals. With an alarm system in place, older patients can return home as soon as they are medically cleared.

The sooner patients can leave hospital and return home safely to their Personal Alarm system, the more incoming patients can be seen in A&E. In turn, this will save hospitals money, as they currently have to pay fines whenever they are unable to meet their waiting time targets.


If you have a patient, relative, or friend who you feel would benefit from having a Personal Alarm, then you can fill in our referral form and we will get in contact with them as soon as we can..

The Lifeline Alarm system can help older people get home from hospital much quicker, thereby relieving extra pressure on NHS hospitals across the country. As soon as we receive your form we’ll get in contact with your patient with an alarm information pack.

Of course, friends and family members can also refer their older loved ones for a Personal Alarm.

Please see our referrals page and complete our form.

VAT Exemption

The vast majority of our customers are eligible for VAT Exemption. This means that you are likely to pay no VAT whatsoever on your new Lifeline alarm.

To qualify for VAT Exemption, the potential alarm user must have a long-term illness or medical condition, a terminal illness or a disability.

If you aren't sure whether you qualify, just give us a call. Our expert advisors will be happy to clarify things.

Personal Alarm Information

For more information about our life-saving personal alarm service, please get in touch with our friendly team on 0800 999 0400. Alternatively, complete our Contact Us form and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

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