NHSbosses are considering whether thousands of patients should be treated in new ‘health hotels’ rather than on wards in an effort to relieve the growing pressure on hospital beds.

They will examine the feasibility of letting some patients stay in hotels at or near hospitals. These will be used where a patient is fit to be discharged but cannot go home because they need support to help them live independently, which is not always available at home.

‘Health hotels’ should be cheaper for the NHS and more patient-friendly, as those undergoing treatment have more freedom and can see relatives more often. University College Hospital in London last year became the first hospital to embrace the idea when it opened a 35-room hotel.

Sophie Bales, Medical Injury Solicitor at Ashton KCJ comments: “Health hotels may offer one solution to bed-blocking, where patients cannot be discharged from hospital as there is not sufficient support for them at home. However, there is a danger that these will be used as be a substitute for proper co-ordinated treatment between health and social care, with support at home taking account of what has happened in hospital.

One way to ensure this co-ordination may be the integration of England's medical and social care. This was put forward as a proposal by Ed Miliband and Andy Burnham yesterday. How it would work in practice is not yet certain. What is certain is that the co-ordination between health and social care will be essential in the coming years, in light of our ageing population and associated health concerns.”