Winter Pressures

February 27, 2024

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Enhancing winter hospital discharge: Spring initiatives for better patient flow

As winter wanes and spring blooms, pressure begins to ease, increasing hospital capacity across the system. But we cannot afford to let the grass grow for too long. To avoid another challenging winter, we must act now, putting in place the processes and measures that will help avoid delayed discharges and winter pressures.

Reflecting on the challenges faced during the winter months, CHS Healthcare have provided four key steps to be taken in spring to help the system prepare for winter and enhance patient flow.

  1. Integrated Transfer of Care Hub: Fostering seamless collaboration

An Integrated Transfer of Care Hub (ITOCH) works to ensure the safe and timely discharge of patients from hospital. The NHS, local authority and community partners work together to facilitate smooth discharge. By evaluating the functionality of existing hubs and identifying areas for improvement, we can make operational changes and enhance resource utilisation to ensure hubs are set up to work at their optimal. By making adaptions in spring can mitigate teething issues in later months, creating a well-oiled machine for a seamless discharge process during winter.

  1. Reflecting on previous winter: Collaborative analysis and action

Evaluation is key in the improvement of service design and process. Reflecting on the previous winter can reveal where change is needed.  A coproduced report, generated through collaboration between hospitals, social care, and community stakeholders, can offer insights into discharge challenges encountered during winter. By analysing trends, system issues or repeat admissions, the system can implement new initiatives to address specific issues.

Additionally, identifying patterns among repeat patients can prompt targeted interventions, such as support from community partners to prevent re-admissions. Local authorities could leverage this data to allocate resources effectively and address gaps in patient care. Community partners, including care homes and outpatient facilities, play a pivotal role in preventing readmissions and supporting discharged patients. By fostering closer collaboration, we can implement proactive measures to address underlying health concerns and provide ongoing support post-discharge.

  1. Dedicated resource for pathway 0 patients: Ensuring accountability and efficiency

It is often assumed that complex cases are the cause of delayed discharge. While this can be true, the volume of more simple cases can be a challenge too. Even a 24hr delay per patient can quickly add up to wasted capacity and blocked patient flow.

Appointing dedicated resource for pathway 0 patients can ensure timely discharge and free up beds for new patients. This individual would coordinate discharge planning efforts and liaise with multidisciplinary teams, whilst addressing the barriers to discharge. By empowering a designated leader, we can mitigate delays in the discharge process, leading to improved patient flow.

  1. Improved policy and processes for mental health patients

Developing an improved policy and process for mental health patients is paramount to addressing the unique challenges associated with their discharge. This should include comprehensive assessment, personalised care planning, and robust post-discharge support. By integrating mental health considerations into discharge protocols, we can enhance continuity of care, without patients having to stay in hospital when they are better cared for and supported elsewhere.

Spring presents an opportune moment for us to reflect on winter discharge challenges and implement targeted initiatives to improve patient flow. By enhancing collaboration across the system, leveraging data-driven insights, and reviewing discharge protocols, together we can optimise patient outcomes, alleviate pressure and ensure improvements are in place for winter.

Drawing upon our 25 years of knowledge and expertise in hospital discharge, we have crafted a flexible and comprehensive approach to address the challenges that winter presents. Whether it’s the safe and efficient discharge of patients or providing support for individuals in the community to secure onward care without additional costs, we are dedicated to enhancing discharge processes that cater specifically to your needs.

Talk to us about how we can help you this winter and beyond. Call 0121 362 8840 or email  /

As originally seen on LinkedIn

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