Speedy discharge aim at Warrington Hospital to stop bed blocking

The trust, which runs the Warrington and Halton hospitals, says it is exploring all options to speed up patient discharges.

This comes as new figures show nine out of 10 patients deemed fit to leave hospitals have not been discharged within a week.

Patients should leave hospital on the same day they are deemed fit for discharge, NHS guidelines say.

Data from NHS England shows 138 patients at Warrington and Halton Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust were eligible for discharge as of January 16 – the latest data available.

However, only 14 left the hospital that day, meaning 124 (90 percent) remained in bed occupancy.

The figures include 92 eligible patients who were hospitalized for at least three weeks as of January 16 – only two of whom were discharged that day.

Across England, more than 12,700 patients – 73 per cent of those ready to be discharged on January 16 – remained on a hospital bed.

Dan Moore, chief operating officer for Warrington and Halton hospitals, said the statistics shouldn’t discourage people from seeking hospital help if they need it.

He commented: “Like many other hospitals across the country, we have constant challenges in terms of the timely discharge of patients for a large number of patients who are healthy enough to leave the hospital.

“That puts our capacities under pressure.

“We are working with our system partners to evaluate all available options so that we can free up beds for urgent patients as soon as possible.

“In the meantime, the public should be reassured that essential services remain open to anyone who needs them and we would encourage anyone in need of urgent medical assistance to continue to reach out.

Halton Hospital

Halton Hospital

“We remain deeply grateful to the heroic efforts of the NHS and social workers in our areas, who have already gone above and beyond to ensure our patients receive the highest standard of care at this difficult time.”

Separate data from NHS England shows an average of 450 Trust staff were sick in the week to January 9, with an average of 186 (41 per cent) sick because they had Covid-19 or were self-isolating because of the virus.

Meanwhile, waiting lists for routine treatments are also at an all-time high nationwide, with six million people waiting for non-urgent elective surgeries or treatments at the end of November, up from 5.98 million a month earlier.

Figures from NHS England show Warrington and Halton Hospitals Trust had 22,106 patients on the waiting list at the end of the month – although that was 201 fewer than the previous month.

Tim Gardner, a senior policy fellow at the charity Health Foundation, said the problems stemmed from a lack of appropriate capacity outside of acute care hospitals.

He said: “Discharge problems often lead to problems admitting patients to wards from emergency rooms.

“Patients who no longer require acute care may still need a combination of social care or non-acute NHS community care, but a lack of post-discharge support means too many are staying in hospital longer than necessary.

“Reducing these longer stays would help ease the pressure on hospitals and free up capacity that could be better utilized to manage the supply backlog that has built up during the pandemic.”

He added that staff shortages are also a factor and a systems overhaul is needed to address the issues.

Professor Stephen Powis, national medical director of the NHS, said staff are going “beyond” to look after thousands of Covid patients while administering hundreds of thousands of Covid vaccines.

He added: “No one wants to spend more time in hospital than is necessary and local NHS services continue to work closely with social service providers to ensure patients can be discharged when they are ready to leave hospital.

“As the NHS ramps up again to deal with what has been an incredibly challenging winter, the best thing you can do to help is come forward and get your jab.”

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