NHS England has announced new plans to set-up system control centres or ‘war rooms’ as they prepare for one of the toughest winters yet. These ‘war rooms’, which will be employed with the goal improving patient flow and hospital capacity across the UK, will implement a digital approach to tracking beds and attendances. The plans also include increase bed capacity by bringing back ‘mothballed’ beds.
Whilst CHS Healthcare welcome NHS England’s plans, these plans represent a very tactical approach. To tackle delayed discharge, we need to truly understand the root causes, otherwise new beds will be quickly filled with patients waiting to be discharged.
Working with hospital and care home staff, and NHS leaders, it is clear that the reasons for delays are multifaceted, including siloed working between teams and a disconnect between health and social care. In order to deliver the change patients and services need, we need to re-engineer discharge processes and improve collaboration across the system ensuring that all relevant parties are involved in discharge planning at the earliest stage.
We also need to put additional emphasis on case managing patients through the system, so that they receive joined up care, and that discharge plans are made in the most efficient way possible. We must also make sure we are actively engaging with families and next of kin throughout the entire process, to ensure that a patients’ needs and wants are involved in the planning for discharge.
The current discharge planning model is broken. To alleviate winter pressures and create systems fit for the future, we must not rely on tactical measures and find ways to foster the close collaboration between hospitals, social care, families, and private providers to ensure smooth discharge processes.