Members of the public are being offered up to £1,000 a month to rent spare rooms to patients discharged from hospital in a proposed NHS scheme.
The AirBnB-style plan would put recovering patients with homeowners with no care giving experience and campaigners warn it is dangerous.
The measure is being considered to tackle the chronic bed blocking crisis in the health service which sees patients taking up beds because care packages are not available in the community.
Campaigners and clinicians argue that lodging frail and vulnerable patients with members of the public in return for cash is ripe for abuse.
The website for the new start-up company CareRooms – believed to be the first of its kind in Britain – says: “Earn up to £1,000 per month renting out your spare room.
“The role of a host is to welcome the patient, cook three microwave meals and drinks for them each day and offer conversation where appropriate. Everything else we arrange.”
It says patients would benefit patients, by creating “a safe, comfortable place for people to recuperate from hospital”.
The medical director of the company, which is part of the NHS England’s clinical entrepreneur programme, said it would have governance and quality standards “better than standard practice” to address concerns.
The company’s medical director Harry Thirkettle is a part-time emergency doctor in Essex. He is also listed as the former science editor of the European Medical Journal.
He said: “Everyone’s immediate concern is, understandably, safeguarding. We are working hard to be better than standard practice.
“We are not going off half-cocked… We are not going to start taking on patients until we have satisfied all these different organisations’ governance procedures and committees [NHS providers, commissioners and councils].
“We are really carefully considering this and making sure it is as safe as possible.”
Rooms would be rented out to funders at around £100 a night, with half going to the host. The rest would be used to pay for the care services required and a percentage kept by the company as profit.
The rooms would be paid for by NHS organisations and local councils but could also take bookings from “self payers”.
For self-payers the option would be presented by a hospital’s discharge team alongside existing options like nursing homes, he said.
Dr Thirkettle said the scheme would have a “vigorous” vetting process including detailed interviews and everyone over 18 in the property would have to undergo a DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check