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16.04.19

NHS rolls out new digital portal for home care vacancies in bid to reduce hospital discharge delays

A new digital portal that allows hospital staff to find care home spaces for patients is to be rolled out across the NHS in a bid to reduce delays.

The ‘Capacity Tracker’ is being rolled out by NHS England to hospitals, care homes, and councils, providing a “shop window” for vacancies – saving staff time normally spent checking availability.

Part of the NHS’s Long-Term Plan to bring the health service into the digital age, the tool is to be introduced following a successful pilot to support people to get out of hospital sooner.

NHS England said around a quarter of a million hospital bed days in England were taken up by people who were medically fit to be discharged last year due to delays in finding an appropriate care home.

Just yesterday, Marie Curie revealed that more than 200 patients died in Northern Ireland hospitals in 2017-18 whilst waiting to be discharged, and that patients were spending thousands of extra days in hospital beds every month despite being fit to leave.

Working with councils, NHS England said it had reduced the number of total beds lost by 20% between 2017 and last year, and making the new Capacity Tracker more widely available was just one of a number of measures the NHS is taking to reduce unnecessary delays.

The digital portal is accessible from any device and takes care homes just 30 seconds to upload details of their available beds.

Over 6,250 care homes have already signed up to the system, which was piloted in Devon, the north and in Berkshire last year, and now thousands more can sign up to use it.

Ruth May, the chief nursing officer for England, said: “One of the central ambitions of the NHS Long-Term Plan is to better support people to age well, and that means joining up different services locally to better meet people’s needs.

“By using this technology to work together more closely, hospitals, local authorities and care homes can ensure that people get the right care in the right place at the right time, and aren’t left waiting in hospital unnecessarily.

She added: “Working with our local government, hospitals and community services as well as patients and their families has been essential to developing this new approach and will be key to rolling it out everywhere.”

The North of England Commissioning Support Unit, funded by NHS England, developed the portal and led the pilot.

Image credit - VILevi

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