A damning report by the Commission for Social Care Inspection has implicated NHS hospitals in an unfair tendency to 'fast track' elderly people into care homes.

The commission's report found that hospitals' desire to discharge an elderly patient at the earliest opportunity often meant that those who had the financial means were pushed into taking a care home place, rather than being allowed to wait for more appropriate care to be arranged in their own home.

"People often appeared to have been fast-tracked into residential care before other options were explored.

"This is a particular risk for people who are in hospital and are known to have sufficient resources to fund their own care," CSCI said in its report.

By right, all people being discharged from hospital are entitled to a care assessment from their council. But in practice, council staff told CSCI that hospitals sometimes "intervened" to ensure a more timely discharge.

The government is expected to launch its consultation on a new system of social care soon.

Care minister Ivan Lewis said the report highlighted a "growing failure to support self-funders to make difficult choices about care for themselves or a family member".