Hospitals top for efficiency

Ambulances outside Wigan Infirmary
Ambulances outside Wigan Infirmary

SUPER-EFFICIENT Wigan hospitals have topped a regional league for slashing the most days lost to “bed blocking”.

Figures from the GMB union reveal that Wrightington Wigan and Leigh (WWL) NHS Foundation Trust has cut down the number of days wasted due to patients needlessly taking up beds when they were well enough to be discharged by a massive 1,363.

We have instigated a number of new initiatives and services to support safe patient discharge and the figures clearly demonstrate how their implementation has led to WWL’s significant improvements

WWL spokesman

It’s the most impressive improvement by any of the 23 NHS trusts in the North West and means hundreds more people are being treated for conditions sooner.

The “bed-blocking” reductions are all the more remarkable given swingeing public sector cuts. These are often blamed for making it harder to discharge patients because after care and social care have been reduced.

In 2011, the WWL lost 6,376 days but by 2015 this had gone down to 5,013.

The GMB points out that bed blocking has actually increased by a quarter nationally, and Wigan’s trust is one of only seven in the region to improve their provision.

In the North West, there has been an increase of 68,697 bed blocking days to 207,367.

It cited reasons delaying the discharge of patients from hospitals in 2015 included sorting out a place in a care home (27.7 per cent), delays in arranging further NHS care (19.1), sorting out care at a patient’s home (19.1), interagency delays (17.4), delays due to patient or family choice about future care (12.7).

But a spokesman for WWL was able to explain how it had managed to buck a worrying trend. He said: “The safe and effective discharge of our patient remains a high priority at WWL NHS Foundation Trust.

“We have instigated a number of new initiatives and services to support safe patient discharge and the figures clearly demonstrate how their implementation has led to WWL’s significant improvements.

“Our Ambulatory Assessment Area (AAA) gives GPs the opportunity to speak to an Acute Physician about the patient they are considering sending to hospital.

“This means that patients can be seen and treated, without the need to be admitted into hospital. This is better for the patient – who may not wish to be admitted – and better for the hospital by releasing beds for more urgent patients.

“When a patient is admitted to any of our wards, they will receive an estimated date of discharge and allows for the planning for discharge on admission.

“The Integrated Discharge Team (IDT), made up of professionals from both health and social care organisations, was introduced to ensure the safe and timely discharge of patients with complex needs.

“Working together the IDT can provide multidisciplinary expertise to support staff, patients and their family or carers and aid a safe and timely discharge. This then provides a much better experience for both patients and their family or carers.

“This week we are running a project – Seven Days, No Delays – which looks to examine that all the processes required to support flow through the hospital run perfectly.”