Health chiefs’ headway on scourge of bed-blocking

Wigan Infirmary
Wigan Infirmary

The number of hold-ups faced by borough patients waiting to be discharged from hospital has dropped.

New NHS England figures show there were 341 “delayed transfers of care” in Wigan in March.

Dr Tim Dalton

Dr Tim Dalton

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These were days when the patients were medically fit to leave hospital but stuck in beds while preparations were made for their care upon discharge, which is sometimes known as bed-blocking.

The 341 days compares well to other boroughs: in Hampshire, for instance, there were 7,430 in March. It was also an improvement on the 465 delayed days in February and 656 in January, as well as 560 in March last year.

Wrightington, Wigan And Leigh NHS Trust, which runs the borough’s hospitals, was responsible for 196 delayed days during the month. That was also an improvement on 246 days in February.

A variety of reasons contributed, including waiting for a place in a care home, further non-acute NHS care, a care package in their own home or community equipment and adaptations.

Two years ago an integrated discharge hub was set up, which sees representatives from several borough organisations working together to overcome any obstacles when patients are leaving hospital.

NHS Wigan Borough Clinical Commissioning Group chairman Dr Tim Dalton said: “After an inpatient stay in hospital being discharged can be overwhelming for patients and their families, but we know that recovery often happens best when people are at home.

“In Wigan borough, NHS, social care and local voluntary services work hard together as one integrated discharge team based at Wigan Infirmary to support people to be discharged home as soon as they are medically ready.

“They do this by starting to plan for discharge as soon as a person is admitted and working out what services and support they will need. For example, this includes getting the right equipment at home, a package of care if they need one, appointments with district nurses and sometimes it even means providing a package of fresh bread and milk.

“Taking this approach means that very few patients are delayed in hospital once they are medically fit and that we are one of the better performing boroughs in the country. We know that Wigan patients at some neighbouring hospitals don’t get the same access to the integrated discharge team, but we are working with these hospitals to create better links between them and local services to make sure that all patients get the best care possible.”