The number of patients occupying hospital beds when they are medically fit to be at home has dramatically reduced thanks to new arrangements introduced during the Coronavirus outbreak.
Health and social care agencies working in partnership across Nottingham and Nottinghamshire have introduced a fast track process to ensure people leaving hospital have the right support in place. This new process is fully joined up between the two Councils and the two major hospitals, coordinated by the Clinical Commissioning Group and Integrated Care System.
The closer working relationship has helped unlock the potential in our local NHS health and care workforce to transform services in a short space of time.
Local hospitals have seen the number of patients occupying beds unnecessarily reduce by almost 75 per cent since the middle of March.
A single multi-agency Integrated Discharge function is helping patients to leave hospital and be cared for in alternative settings freeing up beds for the sickest people.
Melanie Brooks, Corporate Director for Adult Social Care and Public Health at Nottinghamshire County Council, said: “I have been impressed by the way everyone has swiftly moved into action to cope with this crisis.
“We work really hard with our partners to make sure people aren’t spending unnecessary time in hospital and freeing up those beds for the next patient. In an incredibly short space of time, we have achieved so much and I’d like to thank everyone involved who has worked so hard during difficult circumstances.”
Catherine Underwood, Corporate Director for People at Nottingham City Council, said: “Our teams have worked incredibly hard to ensure we have the right support in place to get people safely and promptly out of hospital. It is overwhelmingly in the best interests of our citizens to be in a place where they feel safe and supported.
“I’m proud of the way we have made this happen in the city. We are ensuring more hospital beds are available for people who really need to be there – including those who are severely ill with Coronavirus.”
The change is just one of a number of significant improvements achieved by local health and care agencies working together during the Coronavirus outbreak, such as:
· Providing ‘shielding’ support to vulnerable people through combined Local Authority and Health efforts
· Introducing efficient data sharing arrangements to speed up processes and cut down on unnecessary bureaucracy
· Creating three times the number of Critical Care beds available in local hospitals to make sure we are ready for a potential increase in Coronavirus patients needing this type of care
· Launching a new Coronavirus test coordination service to ensure 250 priority front line workers can get tested at our two local drive-through centres every day.
· Establishing a seven-day 8am – 8pm discharge service serving Nottinghamshire
· Redeploying care workers from other teams to support patients discharged into local care homes
· Running successful recruitment campaigns for temporary relief social care staff that has attracted 740 applicants in total. These keyworkers will work in a range of roles including home care, care homes and providing short breaks for carers.
· Transforming the way that GPs deliver routine appointments with telephone appointments now the norm and an increasing number of video consultations
· Bringing data experts from councils and the NHS together to ensure local services are ready for any rise in the number of patients affected.
All health and care agencies in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire work together as part of an Integrated Care System (ICS), which aims to improve the health of local citizens by joining up local services.
This week David Pearson, Chair of the ICS, wrote to all local health and care employers to acknowledge the achievements of local keyworkers, stating:
“At this extraordinary time, we wanted to take a few moments to acknowledge and express our deep appreciation for the way in which our health and care system is coming together in providing a truly remarkable response to Covid-19 for the people of Nottingham and Nottinghamshire.
“We should all be rightly proud of the unprecedented scale and pace of transformation, which is already helping our system to respond to the local surge in demand for care.
“We owe an enormous debt of gratitude to colleagues across the breadth and depth of our organisations, who are working tirelessly in the battle against this corona virus.”
Hospital beds occupied by elderly and vulnerable people who have recovered from illness but need care in the community are now urgently needed for the expected influx of severely ill coronavirus patients.
Getting them home with support or into a care home will enable the NHS to free up 15,000 beds nationally and convert them to critical care. A further 15,000 beds will become available through cancelled elective operations, and 10,000 are being purchased from the private sector.