Northumbria best in country for timely discharge of older people from hospital
Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust has been singled out as one of the top organisations nationally for discharging older people from hospital in a safe and timely manner.
The trust’s chief executive David Evans recently gave evidence at the House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts held to discuss this issue nationally.
Described as having one of the best records on discharging older patients anywhere in the country, the committee highlighted Northumbria’s long-standing relationship with Northumberland County Council and the fully-integrated approach to managing patients’ every care need.
In a unique arrangement with its local authority partner, Northumbria provides adult social care services across Northumberland as well as hospital and community-based care. This means that when patients are ready to be discharged from hospital they can do so much more seamlessly, with all the right professionals working from the outset to make sure patients have the right care and support in place for them to manage at home.
Official figures show that across the country the number of delayed transfers for older people – where a patient remains in hospital after the clinicians and professionals involved in their care decide they are ready to leave – increased by 31% between 2013 and 2015.
The committee highlighted that in Northumbria, which cares for patients in Northumberland and North Tyneside, the number of delayed transfers of care in 2015/16 was only 10 days, compared to almost 18,000 days in other parts of the country.
The committee also heard that Northumbria hospital staff being able to access GP patient records was a vital part of being able to plan patients’ care and discharge and having community matrons involved in their care before patients leave hospital was key.
It also cited Northumbria’s excellent track record of seven-day working which culminated in the opening of the Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital last year and has transformed care for those who are seriously ill or injured.
It is the success of this integrated work over many years that has led to the trust being named as a national leader to pioneer new models of care and join up services even further. Northumbria is now leading work with health and social care partners in Northumberland as part of the national vanguard programme to deliver a primary and acute care system (PACS).
Mr Evans, chief executive of Northumbria Healthcare, said: “We have an excellent track-record of working across traditional organisational boundaries and realising the benefits of integration and we are delighted to share our experiences on the national stage.
“At all times our primary focus is our patients and providing the very best care in the best location to suit their needs, and working in partnership with health and social care partners in order to make it happen.
“Whilst we always try to avoid people coming into hospital unless it’s absolutely necessary, if patients do require a hospital stay, it’s about planning their discharge as early as possible.
“Key to this is involving our community and social care teams while the patient is in hospital to ensure that, when they do go home, it is as seamless as possible and all the care and support they need to manage at home is in place.
“It’s so important that patients are able to go home when they’re medically fit and it’s also about making sure that services are available seven days a week so there is no disruption to services over a weekend for example.”
He added: “While we are leading the way nationally in this work, we fully recognise that there is always more we can do to integrate care further to benefit our patients.
“Our work with health and social care partners to pioneer new models of care is hugely exciting and will ensure that patients in our area remain at the forefront of integration.”
The committee was held in June.