Posted on 13/06/2018 by David Burgess
NHS bosses plan to free up thousands of hospital beds by slashing the number of long stays by a quarter.
Trusts have been ordered to send more patients home on Saturdays and Sundays – to stop wards being needlessly clogged up on weekends.
Officials want more sick Brits treated as day cases or referred for therapy.
Nearly 350,000 patients spend at least three weeks stuck on a ward each year. Long stayers take up fifth of all beds - the equivalent of 36 hospitals.
NHS leaders claim acting now will free up 4,000 beds ahead of next winter.
Failure to cut long stays by 25 per cent will be deemed a safety issue, with discharge hit squads sent in to support struggling hospitals.
Speaking ahead of the NHS Confederation conference in Manchester today, health boss Simon Stevens will say: “Over this past year hospitals and local councils have successfully worked together and have turned the corner on delays in patients being discharged.
“Now they need to go further in order to ensure patients are treated with dignity and looked after in the right setting for them.” Medics warn elderly patients stuck in hospital beds are ageing ten years in ten days.
Last winter was one of the worst in NHS history, with A&E delays the highest on record.
Data also shows hospitals carried out 62,000 fewer operations compared to winter 2016/17.
NHS Improvement’s Chief Executive, Ian Dalton, said: “No-one wants patients to stay in hospital longer than they have to, or for the health of patients to deteriorate in the very place that is supposed to be making them better.
“But this is happening all too often and we have to work together to change it. Every day in hospital is a precious day away from normal life.
“By setting this national ambition and working with trusts and local systems to deliver it, we will help more patients to recover safely and as quickly as possible, while ensuring that hospital resources are used for those who need them most."
Charities welcomed the target. Rachel Power, chief executive of the Patients Association, said: “Prolonged stays in hospital are often not the right solution for patients.
“Improved support to ensure patients can stay as well as possible in their own homes, whether immediately after an admission or as a way to prevent one, will be vital in ensuring the NHS meets the changing needs of our population.
Sally Copley, Director of Policy and Campaigns at Alzheimer’s Society, said: “For too long people with dementia have been pulled from pillar to post in our not-fit-for-purpose health and social care system.
“It’s great to see the Government sitting up and taking this issue seriously.”