Extra hospital and community beds, changes to the way patients are assessed for their post-hospital care needs and closer working between agencies, mean health and social care partners in Nottinghamshire go into their busiest months of the year better prepared than ever, says NUH Trust.
Up to 30 extra respiratory beds will open at Nottingham City Hospital between December and early April.
Additional community care packages, assessment capacity and community beds started to come on line from the beginning of October to coincide with a new way of assessing patients’ post hospital care needs outside of the hospital setting, which will lead to hospital beds being used more effectively. It aims to reduce length of stay for medically safe patients and delays with transfers of care.
Caroline Shaw, NUH’s Chief Operating Officer, said: “While we are forecasting a challenging winter, including a difficult winter flu season, as a health and social care system we go into our busiest months of the year in a better position than in previous years.
“There is a renewed focus on early actions and decision-making across every ward to prevent our patients experiencing long bed waits and reducing the risk of patients being cared for in an overcrowded Emergency Department (ED).
“We continue to work closely with health and social care partners across Nottinghamshire to improve the flow through ED, our wards and out of hospital when patients are ready to transfer from our care.”
Caroline added: “We ask the local community to help us over winter. Please only use ED in an emergency – and make use of all available health services, including 111, local pharmacies, your GP and the urgent care centre in the city centre for minor injuries. Please don’t visit any friends or relatives at QMC and City Hospital until you have been free of diarrhoea and vomiting for at least 48 hours, and use the hand gel and soap and water to clean your hands when visiting our wards to minimise the spread of infection.”
Dr Hugh Porter, Clinical Lead and Chair of Nottingham City Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “Local GPs are encouraging vulnerable patients and health workers to get a flu vaccination as the best protection against the spread and impact of the virus during winter months.
“More than three quarters of people who are infected with the flu virus have no symptoms but pose a real danger to any vulnerable people they come into contact with such as pregnant women, older people and new-born babies. The vaccine gives between 60 and 80 per cent protection against flu infection and is the most effective measure to protect the public against the virus.
“At this time of year we also advise people to maintain a supply of over the counter remedies for coughs and colds as well as make sure they have enough stocks of any prescribed medicines.”