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Healthcare groups cut discharge time for patient's needing support

By Dominic Robertson | Telford | Coronavirus | Published:

The county's healthcare organisations say they have cut the average wait to discharge patients who require support when they leave hospital.

The efforts mean that the average wait to discharge has been cut to two and a half days.

As a response to the covid-19 pandemic, five of the county's healthcare organisations have come up with a new way of arranging care for patients who require it – cutting the average wait to be discharged from hospital to two-and-a-half days, and freeing up space in hospital.

It comes after government guidance in March for health trusts to speed up the safe discharge of patients in to the community – up until the end of the pandemic.

In Shropshire Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH), Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust (Shropcom), and Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin Councils have all been working on the plan.

It has involved the creation of an Integrated Discharge Hub to provide rapid access to discharge services once a patient is ready to leave hospital.

All referrals are now made by telephone, triaged and discharge arrangements organised by the multi-professional team, with the aim of discharge taking place on the same day whenever possible.

For the first time, all organisations involved in the Integrated Discharge Hub are working at the same place – at Royal Shrewsbury Hospital – and the service is provided seven-days-a-week.

Nigel Lee, chief operating officer at SaTH, said: “As soon as a patient is deemed medically fit, there should be no delay in getting them home. Any hour spent in hospital without needing to, is an hour too many.

“The team is proud to have worked together bringing expertise from all areas of health and social care practice to establish the integrated discharge hub for the patients of Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin and mid Wales. The aim was to improve the process of getting people home, reduce bed capacity when it’s not needed and to enhance patient experience. We have certainly done that, and we will now be looking to how we can embed this into our ways of working for the future, beyond Covid-19.”

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Claire Old, senior responsible officer for discharge said “All our staff have recognised how important it is to help our patients to return home as quickly as possible, and they have worked so hard to facilitate this. Our patients and relatives have also been part of our team and have understood the constraints of the Covid pandemic.

"Our community teams, local care homes and domiciliary agencies have pulled out the stops to support our patients when they get back home or to their normal place of residence. We’ve all be so proud to be part of this caring health and social care system.”

Mike Carr, deputy director of operations at Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust, said: “At Shropcom, we were fully committed to this important initiative, and redeployed colleagues from a variety of services to create this enhanced discharge offer for patients. Now we must all look at how we can build on this together over the weeks and months ahead as we look to shape healthcare beyond the pandemic. Our desire is to take the positives from this crisis and develop our services accordingly.”

Tanya Miles, assistant director for adult social care and housing, at Shropshire Council and Sarah Dillon, director adult social care at Telford Council, said: “Both local authorities are really excited to be working as part of this initiative with our health colleagues. We are committed to getting the best outcome for patients, and this new way of working puts patients at the centre of our activities and promotes true person centred outcomes. The Integrated Discharge Hub has given us the opportunity to move beyond organisational barriers, and develop a new way of working that maximises opportunities for collaboration with our partners and give better outcomes to patients, their families and their carers.”

So far the Hub has received 1,367 complex discharge referrals.

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