BED blocking in Sandwell has fallen dramatically in the past 18 months freeing up acute hospital beds for emergency care, councillors will hear this week.

The two thirds fall in the number of 'delayed discharges of care' has been revealed as councillors prepare to invest £8 million over the next four years.

A report to the councillors shows a massive drop from 695 cases in September 2016 to 225 by January this year.

Councillors are now being recommended to approve a contract for 46 long and short term beds from private care companies allowing interim care to patients released from hospital before returning to their homes.

In some cases, patients are being directly sent to nursing homes saving the use of NHS beds.

Council leader Councillor Steve Eling said: "At a time when there is a huge strain on the NHS, we have worked together to help Sandwell residents be discharged as quickly as possible.

"I would like to thank everyone working in health and social care in Sandwell for working around the clock for local people."

He added: "Sandwell has benefited from an extra £11.5 million of Government investment into the Better Care Fund during 2017/18 and we have used the money wisely to provide vital protection for social care services and ensure the council is able to fully meet the care and support needs of vulnerable people in the borough."

Working with Sandwell and West Birmingham Clinical Commissioning Group, the borough's 225 cases are well below the NHS England's target of 405 cases.

Councillors will discuss the report into the findings at the borough's cabinet meeting on Wednesday (May 16).