Hospital bid to cut bed-block problem

JON WELCH Hospital patients are to be given letters telling them their expected discharge dates, as part of a plan to tackle bed-blocking. Patients visiting the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital for operations will be given a letter on admission explaining when they are expected to be able to go home and what they need to do to prepare.

JON WELCH

Hospital patients are to be given letters telling them their expected discharge dates, as part of a plan to tackle bed-blocking.

Patients visiting the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital for operations will be given a letter on admission explaining when they are expected to be able to go home and what they need to do to prepare.

The move is aimed at reducing waiting times and helping more patients to receive the treatment they need by ensuring there is always a bed ready for the next patient.

The hospital, which typically admits between 60 and 80 people a day for routine operations, said patient feedback showed most preferred to get home quickly after an operation.

"For around 80pc of patients their recovery is straightforward and most would prefer to go home as soon as possible," said Elaine Freeman, divisional operational manager for trauma and orthopaedics. "We want to give those patients the clear message that arrangements should be made in advance so they are ready with their bags packed and transport arranged.

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"In effect it is like going on holiday: you wouldn't hang around at the airport if you could possibly avoid it. You would get yourself home as soon as possible. Of course we will be monitoring patients closely to ensure they are fit enough to leave hospital on the appointed day. If there is a clinical need we will extend their stay for as long as they need."

Miss Freeman said information on discharge dates was currently given verbally on an ad hoc basis. "Quite often the public will ignore it."

She said a leaflet given to patients will say: "You will only be discharged if the team caring for you feels you are well enough. If you are not, they will agree a new discharge date for you".

She added: "There has been an expectation that the health service is responsible for providing free transport and that patients can stay in a bed until they are ready to go. This is not necessarily the case. There are strict criteria for free transport and patients and their families should make their own travel arrangements.

"The good news is that waiting times are coming down and we are moving towards a maximum waiting time of 18 weeks from referral to hospital treatment. If we are to achieve this target for all hospital patients, we would appeal to them to help us and, like any good boy scout, to 'be prepared'," she said.

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