Rise in patients needs leads to bed-blocking rise in Wigan

Wigan Infirmary has an integrated discharge team
Wigan Infirmary has an integrated discharge team

Patients who needed complicated care contributed to a rise in bed-blocking, according to health bosses.

NHS England records “delayed transfers of care”, which are days when the patients were medically fit to leave hospital but stuck in beds while preparations were made for their care upon discharge, sometimes known as bed-blocking.

There were 367 delayed days in Wigan in June, rising from 325 in May.

The majority of the delays - 202 days - were due to waiting for further non-acute NHS care or placements in residential homes.

However, the NHS England data shows a slight drop in the number of delayed days at Wrightington, Wigan And Leigh NHS Foundation Trust (WWL), from 158 in May to 156 in June.

This included 48 days waiting for non-acute NHS care and 39 days which were the choice of the patients or their families.

The borough has an integrated discharge team, based at Wigan Infirmary, where NHS staff, social care and voluntary services work together to ensure patients can be discharged as soon as they are medically ready.

Dr Tim Dalton, chairman of NHS Wigan Borough CCG, said: “In June, we had a small number of people who needed a lot of quite complicated care arranging which did take time. Whilst getting people out of hospital when they are medically fit and on to the next stage of their care is important, it is more important to make sure that we have the right support in place for them when they leave.

“Our approach to discharge 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 based at RAEI, 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.”

Christopher Broadbent, directorate manager of integrated health services at WWL, said: “We are really pleased that for the past 18 months in Wigan we have seen a positive steady decline in delayed transfers of care. This is due to joint working between health, social care and third sector organisations in the integrated discharge team (IDT).

“The IDT hub was implemented to bring together and co-locate several organisations in the borough to support discharge planning from hospital. Their aim is to reduce the number of patients who have received medical treatment and are ready to be discharged, but for some reason cannot, such as if they need care at home or alternative care.

“The team at WWL, including our partners in the community, have been working on improving the safe flow of patients through the Wigan Infirmary site. This is especially important for our most vulnerable patients, who require that extra bit of care to be put in place before they can safely return home or to a place where their needs can be most appropriately addressed.

“This is a significant achievement as it has been particularly difficult as the pressure witnessed over the winter period had resulted in the A&E four-hour national target being at its lowest level for a long time. This has been due to the high demand on beds.

“Therefore, a team has been set up to improve the situation, so patients can get the care they need as quickly as possible. One key part has been to get patients discharged as early in the day as possible once they are medically fit. They can then go home or to a place of care with all the support they need.”