The closure of two care homes has been blamed for a high rate of delayed transfers of care in Dorset. The local mental health provider is the only foundation trust in breach of Monitor’s target for delays, HSJ can reveal.

  • Dorset Healthcare FT is the only mental health trust breaching Monitor’s target on delayed transfers
  • Care home closures due to quality concerns blamed
  • First time mental health delayed transfers data has been made public

The target is that fewer than 7.5 per cent of a mental health trust’s beds are occupied by patients whose transfer to another setting has been delayed.

Data obtained by HSJ under the Freedom of Information Act shows that Dorset Healthcare University Foundation Trust was the only one in England where persistently more than 7.5 per cent of its beds are occupied by a patient whose transfer has been delayed.

Monitor gathers the data on all 41 mental health foundation trusts, but this is the first time the figures, which cover the first three quarters of 2014-15, have been made public.

The data shows:

  • 12 per cent of Dorset Healthcare’s beds were occupied by people fit for discharge for each of the first three quarters of 2014-15;
  • the only other trust to breach the target in this time was 5 Boroughs Partnership Foundation Trust, with a rate of 8.1 per cent in quarter two; and
  • the median rate increased during from 2.5 per cent in quarter one to 2.9 per cent in quarter three.

The table below show the trusts with the highest rates at the end of quarter three.

Mental health DTOCs table








A Dorset Healthcare spokeswoman said the trust’s performance was the result of a shortage of care home places for older people with dementia and complex needs.

She said: “This [performance] is in a context of a very real shortage of nursing or residential placements, exacerbated by the closure of two independent care homes due to quality concerns that removed 71 beds from the local system.”

The trust is working with council and NHS commissioners to improve discharge arrangements, and bring in new providers, she said.

The spokeswoman added that the trust has since made “significant progress”, and that in February its delayed transfer rate was down to 8.9 per cent. “We believe we are now very close to being compliant,” she said.

Monitor has not taken action against the trust, although it does have the power to take formal regulatory action over target breaches.

A Monitor spokesman said it was “unlikely” it would take action based solely on the failure of a trust to hit one target, and added that the regulator has been working with Dorset Healthcare and NHS England to reduce delayed transfers.