Officers have big impact on bed-blocking

Julie Peet (left) with Graham Scott and his niece Susan
Julie Peet (left) with Graham Scott and his niece Susan

A pioneering scheme to target bed-blocking and save Wigan’s NHS resources has been hailed a success by town hall bosses.

Wigan and Leigh Homes last year appointed two hospital discharge officers hoping to prevent unnecessary re-admissions.

A council report has revealed the pair have dealt with 408 cases, making savings of £353,000 to the NHS and have saved 550 “bed days”.

Dr Tim Dalton, chair of the Wigan borough clinical commissioning group (CCG), said: “It is fantastic to see the difference that the two hospital discharge officers are making.

“Not only are they saving the NHS money and freeing up beds in hospitals, but more importantly they are making people’s lives better by getting them the support they need to be independent at home. 

“This is partnership working at its best.”

The term bed-blocking has become prevalent in recent years as over-stretched and cash-strapped local authorities have struggled to maintain social care provision.

It refers to when hospital patients - often elderly residents - are medically fit to leave but are unable to organise suitable help in the community and therefore remain on wards.

The Wigan based officers have been funded through a joint initiative by the CCG and the town hall.

Mary Fleming, Director of Operations and Performance at WWL NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Our Trust welcomes this innovative approach in reducing unnecessary delays for patients who require a hospital admission and then become medically fit for discharge but cannot leave due to social reasons.”

The report detailing the scheme’s success will feature at the council’s health and social care committee today.