NHS funding aims to help bed-blockers get out of hospital quicker

A new scheme will see the NHS helping to tackle bed-blocking
A new scheme will see the NHS helping to tackle bed-blocking
QA Hospital

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THE NHS has announced £1.4m in funding to help councils and hospitals improve delays in discharging patients.

Applications are now open for local authorities to apply for a share of the cash, which will go towards assessment, discharge and withdrawal notices.

As previously reported in The News, Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham has had problems with patients stuck in hospital.

At its highest the hospital had 301 patients well enough to leave waiting to be discharged, a figure 
which has lessened to an average of around 250 for this month.

Tom Denwood, director of data and integration at NHS Digital, said technology has the potential to speed up the discharge process.

‘Local authorities and their NHS partners have a huge challenge ahead of them in tackling the steadily worsening problems caused by delayed transfers of care, so that patients can be supported back into their own 
homes and regain their independence as quickly as possible,’ he said.

‘These issues impact on the NHS, the patients and their carers, especially during the winter months when demand on public health services increases.

‘We know that technology has the potential to speed up the discharge process by integrating the health and social care IT systems, and we are here to support both local government and the wider NHS to help make this happen.’

The current, non-digital systems in place to handle assessment, discharge and withdrawal notices have been identified by local authorities and their NHS partners as one of the stumbling blocks to the transfer of care.

This has led NHS Digital, in conjunction with NHS England, to offer the cash to partnerships that have the potential to speed up the process.

It is hoped the money will help reduce delayed 
discharges to patients from hospital after the National Audit Office reported in 2016 there was an estimated 
£820m gross cost to the NHS due to around 2.7m older patients being in hospital who no longer required acute treatment.

QA’s problems have been discussed by the Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust board and at meetings held by the Portsmouth health overview and scrutiny panel.

Councillor Luke Stubbs, cabinet member for adult social care at Portsmouth City Council, said: ‘Portsmouth City Council runs its discharge service jointly with the hospital and with Solent NHS Trust.

‘It is looking at ways of improving the flow of patients and is always open to submitting bids for funding when it is offered.

‘The amount of money available for this programme is minimal when spread across the country, but the council will consider making an application.’