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More than 1,000 bed days lost in October due to delayed transfers at West Suffolk Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Trust


By Newsdesk Bury


Hundreds of bed days a month are lost due to delayed transfers at West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust and Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Trust

Patients block 15 beds a day at West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust and 18 beds at day at Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, NHS England figures show.

In October, patients at West Suffolk Hospital spent 472 days waiting to be discharged or transferred to a different care facility.

Bed in a modern clinic corridor. (6359440)
Bed in a modern clinic corridor. (6359440)

Forty-three per cent of delays were caused by problems with the NHS – like waiting for a bed to open up in a rehabilitation centre – 12 per cent by problems with social care – such as delays in setting up care or equipment at home – and the rest due to problems in both sectors.

At Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) patients spent 554 days waiting to be discharged or transferred, with 56 per cent of delays caused by social care problems, 36 per cent by NHS problems and the rest due to problems in both sectors.

A delayed transfer of care is when a patient remains in a bed after being declared safe for transfer. The figures do not include delays in transferring a patient between wards, or one acute hospital to another.

Helen Beck, chief operating officer at West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (WSFT), said: “Because of our close working with other health and social care organisations, the number of patients experiencing a delayed transfer of care is small when looking at the national picture.

“We are the best performing NHS trust in Suffolk in the latest published figures.“Getting patients home as soon as they’re medically well enough to leave hospital is important, as it’s better for their long-term recovery and helps to ensure our hospital beds are available for us to care for the most unwell people. We’re very proactive and have a team fully dedicated to supporting the timely discharge of patients and getting them home with the care they need.”

Across England, an average 4,737 beds a day were blocked in October – about 4.3 per cent of occupied beds. The Government target is 3.5 per cent.

Stuart Richardson, NSFT chief operating officer, said: "Pressures on local beds remain high, as we see in all areas of NHS care, and demand for our beds continues to increase, year on year.

“The trust is working with social care and third sector colleagues to improve communications and patient flow wherever possible and avoid delayed transfer of care."

Delayed transfers of care have the greatest impact on elderly patients. According to the NHS, for a person over 80 a hospital stay of more than 10 days can lead to 10 years of muscle ageing.

Delayed transfer statistics across the region:

  • West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust: 472 days
  • Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust: 554 days
  • East Suffolk And North Essex NHS Foundation Trust: 1,610 days
  • Norfolk And Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust: 1,187 days
  • Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust: 2,231 days
  • The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King's Lynn, NHS Foundation Trust: 716 days

WSFT schemes to help reduce delayed transfers:

  • Support to go home service: a reabling care-bridging service, run in partnership with Suffolk County Council
  • Early intervention team which visits patients in their own home and the emergency department
  • Social service working on site: Social services representatives and the hospital’s discharge planning team are in the same office at West Suffolk Hospital to allow for joint assessments.
  • Care home liaison

NSFT says it has implemented initiatives including:

  • Red to Green discharge planning. This process ensures every day spent as an inpatient (particularly for those in later life services) achieves a meaningful step towards the patient’s expected discharge date
  • Working with pharmacy services to ensure medication required at discharge is available and ready
  • Improved communication between social care services to avoid delays and uncertainty
  • Twice-daily escalation calls to identify capacity issues
  • Increased staffing at peak times


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