WORKING to reduce bed-blocking helped Queen Alexandra Hospital deal with the busy Easter period, says its chief executive.
In February, the Cosham hospital saw its number of medically ‘fit for discharge’ patients - reduce from around 273 at the beginning of the month to around 229 at the end.
The phenomenon of bed-blocking - when patients are healthy enough to be discharged but cannot be released because care plans or other similar arrangements are not in place - has previously been identified as the source of many of the hospital’s challenges, as it has knock-on effects on the A&E department and other areas.
This trend continued for March and meant QA was able to improve its ambulance handover times and reduce the number of patients waiting 12 hours on a trolley bed.
Speaking at the Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust board meeting, chief clinical officer Paul Bytheway said: ‘Part of the success of the medically fit for discharge patients has been from working with our colleagues in the third sector.
‘I met with the regional team of the Red Cross to integrate them into our operational working and give them a base in the discharge centre.
‘In March, we continued this push to reduce the medically fit-for-discharge patients and improve the flow in the emergency department.
‘This work helped us prepare for Easter and the busy four-day bank holiday.’
Mr Bytheway said over Easter there were no ambulance hold-ups of more than 60 minutes and most days they handed patients over within 30 minutes.
He added the hospital improved on its A&E target of seeing, treating or discharging patients within four hours.
‘On Easter Sunday, we met the nationally-set four-hour target for 79.9 per cent of admissions,’ he said.
‘But every other day it was above 80 and on the Tuesday after the bank holiday we met that target for 89 per cent of patients.
‘We have sustained that good performance for seven days and maintained flow in A&E.
‘The overwhelming feeling is that people couldn’t believe it was a four-day bank holiday because of the energy in the hospital.
‘We are hoping to keep that going and continue to make improvements.’
As previously reported in The News, QA Hospital struggled to reach its target for the A&E target over the winter months.
And it has been working with Portsmouth City Council and Hampshire County Council to reduce the number of medically fit for discharge patients stuck in its beds.