The trust involved in a controversial plan to send discharged patients to private spare rooms, under an Airbnb style model, has now said it has “no intention… to support the pilot at this time”.

As exclusively revealed by HSJ yesterday, Southend Hospital University Foundation Trust has been working with a company to develop “proof of concept” for private homeowners with no care experience to be paid up to £1000 a month to “host” patients after they have been discharged from hospital.

The trust initially told HSJ: “Carerooms’ is one of [the] initiatives that Southend Hospital is currently exploring with system partners in order to provide greater system resilience in light of continued high levels of demand being experienced… A number of patient cohorts are currently being assessed to identify opportunities that may exist with our system.” (see full statement issued by the trust to HSJ below)

However, following high profile national media coverage, and groups including unions and adult social care directors raising concerns, the trust appears to have changed tack.

Trust deputy chief executive Tom Abell said in a statement today: “Whilst we welcome and encourage new ideas and innovation, there is no intention and there never has been for the hospital to support this pilot at this time.

“We will never compromise the safety and quality of care for patients and we will not support this pilot until the necessary safeguarding and quality arrangements are in place and there has been full engagement and discussion with our local communities on the proposal, this will happen after a period of detailed work and scoping that we have requested.”

Read about the plans in our original exclusive here. 

HSJ has approached the company for comment. 

The trust’s original statement to HSJ in full

Yvonne Blücher, managing director of Southend University Hospital FT and chair of the local Accident and Emergency Delivery Board said:

 “The South East Essex system continues to explore a number of innovative solutions to further enhance health and social care pathways for our patients and service users. ‘Carerooms’ is one of these initiatives that Southend Hospital is currently exploring with system partners in order to provide greater system resilience in light of continued high levels of demand being experienced.

“CareRooms was set up by a local A&E doctor and is part of the NHS England Clinical Entrepreneurs programme. This programme is co-designed by NHS England and Health Education England to offer opportunities for doctors and wider health professionals to develop their entrepreneurial aspirations and is led by national clinical director for innovation, Professor Tony Young who is also a consultant at Southend Hospital.

“The Care Rooms principle is to provide additional support to those patients who may have had a minor procedure and live alone or whose own families are not able to provide short term assistance post hospital care. A number of patient cohorts are currently being assessed to identify opportunities that may exist with our system.

“To help with this exploration the CareRooms team have been talking to staff, patients and visitors about the concept with a view to identifying potential ‘hosts’ by having a stall in the hospital restaurant.”