Discharge orders

Government to spend £250m to expedite hospital discharges

As the health sector continues to deal with backlog and medically fit patients continue to take up precious bed space, the Government is rolling out £250m of funding to buy extra capacity in community care settings to take pressure off the NHS and get people flowing in and out of hospitals more fluidly.

The funding is supplementary to the £500m Adult Social Care Discharge Fund which is already helping patient flow. £200m of the funding will be used to expedite ambulance handovers and speed up A&E to ward admittance.

With approximately 13,000 medically fit patients taking up hospital beds across England, the Government is also making £50m immediately available to expand hospital discharge lounges and ambulances hubs.

Health secretary, Steve Barclay, said: “The NHS is under enormous pressure from Covid and flu, and on top of tackling the backlog caused by the pandemic, Strep A and upcoming strikes, this winter poses an extreme challenge.

“I am taking urgent action to reduce pressure on the health service, including investing an additional £200m to enable the NHS to immediately buy up beds in the community to safely discharge thousands of patients from hospital and free up hospital capacity, on top of the £500m we’ve already invested to tackle this issue.

“In addition, we are trialling six National Discharge Frontrunners – innovative, quick solutions which could reduce discharge delays, moving patients from hospital to home more quickly.”

The trials will take place at six trailblazing sites up and down the country, including:

  • Sussex Health and Care ICS, which will trial a new data tool that is aiming to enhance operational oversight and improve performance management.
  • The Northern Care Alliance, which will trial specialised dementia hubs.
  • Humber and North Yorkshire ICS, which is harnessing the power of data to smooth patients’ transitions through different healthcare organisations.
  • One Croydon Alliance, which is trialling fully integrated IT and financial systems, and integrated leadership, to improve overall coordination between hospitals and community settings.
  • Leeds Health and Care Partnership, which is looking to establish an Active Recovery Service to provide immediate, short-term care.
  • Warwickshire Place, which is trialling a strengthened partnership between the NHS and social care in order to better support patients’ transition from hospital to community settings.

Minister for Care, Helen Whately, said: “Getting people out of hospital on time is more important than ever. It’s good for patients and it helps hospitals make space for those who need urgent care.

“We’re launching six Discharge Frontrunners to lead the way with innovations to help get people out of hospital and back home. Winter is always hard for the NHS and social care, and this year especially with flu in high circulation. That’s why we provided the £500 million Adult Social Care Discharge Fund earlier in the winter.

“As well as helping people right now, we’re looking ahead to make our health and care system work better next winter and beyond. These problems are not new but now is the time to fix them for the future.”

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NHE May/June 2024

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