Health minister does not rule out Airbnb-style stays for recuperating patients

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A health minister has said he would not rule out the idea of NHS patients recuperating in Airbnb-style accommodation to free up hospital beds.

Philip Dunne said it was important to trial different things but stressed that patients who need care beyond their normal living requirements would have to be in the hands of people with training.

His comments follow news that CareRooms is planning a small pilot scheme and is recruiting "hosts" - who do not need any previous care experience - in Essex who could earn up to £50 a night putting up people recuperating from a hospital stay.

Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live's Pienaar's Politics, Mr Dunne was asked if the trial was indicative of a problem in the provision of social care facilities.

He said: "Well they're trying something new. I think we can't close our minds to looking at new ways of doing things, providing things."

Pressed on whether it was a good idea, Mr Dunne said: "Well what I say, I wouldn't just immediately, because it's new and it sounds different, I wouldn't immediately reject it.

"I think one's got to trial different things. I think this is Southend Hospital, they've said they're not ready to do this."

He said it would not be good for patients to be discharged into the care of local residents without appropriate training, adding: "Any discharges for patients who need care other than care with their sort of normal living requirements will need to be trained - there's no question about that."

Mr Dunne said there "may be some specialists who have the relevant experience".

He said: "There may be B&B providers who have nurse training, or have worked in residential care, who wish to set up that kind of facility."