Nottinghamshire health and social care leaders are highlighting the importance of getting more patients out of hospital sooner once they no longer need acute hospital care.
The call comes ahead of the Bank Holiday weekend and as hospitals across the UK continue to a face a ‘perfect storm’ of pressures which are affecting the availability of beds for the sickest patients. These include rising demand on hospital emergency departments, the ongoing challenges of Covid for hospital admissions and inpatients, and rising numbers of patients in hospitals who no longer need to be there and who would benefit from recovering at home.
Essentially, if patients who don’t need to be in hospital remain in a bed, that is one less bed available for patients who really do need the bed and may experience a long wait in an emergency department for one to become available.
In Nottingham the two acute hospital Trusts, who between them run the QMC, City Hospital and King’s Mill Hospital, have over 300 patients in hospital beds who no longer require hospital care. Most of these patients are waiting to be discharged back home, but some will need to go on to a community setting, which may include a residential or care home with a care package.
Dr Keith Girling, Medical Director at Nottingham University Hospitals Trust said: “Half of patients will return home requiring no additional support, but many will need a little care and support at home to aid their recovery. We know families can be concerned that they are unable to properly look after their loved one at home or are concerned that their loved one ‘isn’t ready’ or is ‘not back to how they were before’. We want to reassure people that hospital, community and social care teams are here to support them and their loved ones to return home including supporting any ongoing care needs, so please ask us questions and be part of the planning process to get your loved ones home.
“We are calling on patients and their families to help us get them home as soon as possible once they no longer need the care provided in hospital. We know that for recovery – both physically and psychologically – being out of hospital is best for patients, where they have their support networks and usual routines”.
David Selwyn, Medical Director at Sherwood Forest Hospitals Trust said: “To families with loved ones in hospital, particularly elderly relatives, we say engage with the team caring for them as soon as possible to start to discuss plans for their discharge from hospital. This will help alleviate concerns or questions and might include simple clarification such as ‘are family members able to pick them up on the day of their discharge?’.
“Or, does the person leaving hospital have a house key, all their belongings and medications they need? Is their fridge fully stocked and their heating on?
“We will help, guide and advise: Do they have any necessary equipment or adaptations to their home in place to enable them to continue their recovery at home? If additional support is required, do families know how to access this?”
Although the healthcare system is under pressure, discharge teams across Nottingham and Nottinghamshire health and social care are working together to help patients leave hospital sooner once they are well enough. This includes getting carers in place to support patients who need ongoing care in their home.
Health and Social Care teams at the City and County Councils work with the NHS to support people out of hospital and into safe and appropriate care settings. Hospital is the best place for patients who are acutely unwell, but being at home in their own environment once they are well enough enables them to recover more quickly. Spending a long time in hospital unnecessarily can lead to worse health outcomes and increase long-term care needs, especially for elderly patients.
Amanda Sullivan, Chief Officer at Mid Nottinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Groups said: “We know many people require a package of care before they can leave hospital. What we would say to those people is please accept the package of care you are offered, even if it is not your first choice, as this can be adapted once you leave hospital. Leaving hospital once you are well enough to do so is an absolute priority, both for you own recovery and mental wellbeing but also for other very sick patients who are in desperate need of a hospital bed”.
Dr Keith Girling adds: “Our message to patients is that we may need to move you out of hospital – either into a bed in the community or with your loved ones if they can support your care at home – whilst you wait for your care package to become available. You will be supported once you leave hospital which will make sure that we have the capacity to care for unwell patients who need a bed”.
There are a number of organisations who can support people (and families and carers) returning home after a stay in hospital:
- Age UK Advice: www.ageuk.org.uk or 0800 169 65 65
- AskLion (support for City residents): www.asklion.co.uk
- Alzheimer’s Society: www.alzheimers.org.uk or 0333 150 3456
- Carers Trust: www.carers.org or 0300 772 9600
- Carers UK: www.carersuk.org or 0808 808 7777
- Disability Service Centre: www.gov.uk/disability-benefits-helpline
- EAC FirstStop Advice: http://hoop.eac.org.uk/hoop/start.aspx or 0800 377 7070
- Homecare Association: www.homecareassociation.org.uk or 020 8661 8188
- Hospice UK: www.hospiceuk.org
- Macmillan Cancer Support: www.macmillan.org.uk or 0808 808 00 00
- Marie Curie: www.mariecurie.org.uk or 0800 090 2309
- Notts Help Yourself (support for County residents): www.nottshelpyourself.org.uk
- NHS website: www.nhs.uk/nhs-services/hospitals/going-into-hospital/being-discharged-from-hospital
- Royal Voluntary Service: www.royalvoluntaryservice.org.uk or 0330 555 0310
People can also can help to reduce pressure on the NHS by continuing to use the most appropriate service and only calling 999 or visiting hospital Emergency Departments in a genuine life-threatening emergency, such as a heart attack, suspected stroke or breathing difficulties.
If you need urgent advice you can use the NHS 111 online service or alternatively call 111 if you cannot get online. NHS 111 can also help if you think you need to visit a minor injury unit to treat broken bones, burns and bites.
Other ways to help include:
- Using your pharmacist for minor conditions such as coughs, colds, ear aches and rashes
- Getting fully vaccinated against COVID-19 including taking up the offer to get your booster
- Staying away from hospitals if you have coronavirus symptoms, vomiting or diarrhoea