We are committed to doing everything we can to get our patients home as soon as they are able to. Prolonged stays in hospital are bad for patients, especially for those who are frail or elderly. We also need to ensure wards have enough beds to care for patients waiting in our Emergency Departments.
From Monday 4 October to Friday 8 October, our teams were tasked with trialling new ways of reducing delays in patient care, so they could get home sooner, called a ‘flow recovery week’.
There were fewer patients in both our hospitals who had been there for more than a week, compared to the previous week. There were also less patients at Queen’s Hospital who had been there for more than three weeks.
At King George Hospital, we also got better at discharging patients earlier in the day.
What went well
Care of the Elderly teams at King George Hospital utilised the Discharge Lounge for patients who could be cared for in this environment while waiting for their transport home. This meant the wards were able to accept new patients. They had plenty of support from our Therapies team, which made a big difference. They was also where we saw improvements in the number of patients discharged earlier on in the day.
Specialist Medicine at King George Hospital saw a significant improvement in the overall number of patients leaving hospital, which reduced the number of people waiting in our Emergency Department.
Surgery also saw an improvement in the number of patients discharged from hospital.
Critical Care focused on being as efficient as possible at getting patients into the department, and on responding promptly to requests from our Emergency Departments for specialist support.
The ‘hot lab’, located within the Emergency Department at Queen’s Hospital, processes tests quickly, has meant a faster turn-around time, and has reduced the pressure on our main lab, giving them more time to process tests for patients on wards.
What we’re going to do next
Our Care of the Elderly teams at Queen’s Hospital will share? what worked well at King George Hospital and trial those initiatives.
We will also be recruiting more therapy staff to provide additional support at weekends.
We’re looking at whether all wards have enough support from a discharge coordinator, a dedicated member of staff who starts to plan, as soon as a patient arrives, for everything to be in place for them to go home, as well as standardising their role.
Acute Medicine and our Same Day Emergency Care team are going to see if extended hours of service better match the needs of our patients. Additionally, we will look at trialling a transfer team to move patients out of our Emergency Departments as soon as bed is available for them.
One week isn’t enough
We’re always looking for how we can improve. We will keep trying new initiatives and pilots during this month. Every Monday and Friday will now be ‘flow recovery days’ when teams dedicated to patient flow will be freed up from all meetings, enabling them to focus on reducing delays in patient care. And every first week of the month will be a ‘flow recovery week’, giving us further opportunities to try new ideas, across different departments. We’ll keep the changes which help us to get patients home sooner and reduce waiting times in our Emergency Departments.