[W]ork to improve patient care in our community hospitals has been highlighted at a conference for health care organisations from across the North East and Cumbria.
Staff from Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundations Trust (CPFT) presented results from a number of initiatives which looked at the lessons that could be learned from the challenges faced across the urgent care system last winter.
Working closer with partners has helped to reduce the delays in discharging patients for care outside of hospital. Each community hospital now has a designated social worker who works with the teams to ensure appropriate care is in place when patients leave hospital. This has helped to reduce the time these patients spend in hospital by over two weeks.
Tracey Porter, Community Hospital Manager, said: “There are lots of reasons why patients can be delayed when leaving hospital but we are working hard to reduce this and ensure patients are in the best place for their needs. It’s great to see such significant results and we hope this will continue as we move towards closer working as one health system.”
Campaigns such as Home for Lunch and #endPJparalysis, which was launched in partnership with North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust, ensure patients return home as soon as they are well enough. Christine Stewart, Patient Flow Co-ordinator, has been working with staff to reduce the amount of time patients spend in hospital:
“There really is no place like home and we know that being in hospital longer than necessary is not in patients’ best interests. Staff have embraced the new initiatives, and feedback from patients has been positive. It was great to share this work with other NHS trusts.”
Recruitment of registered nurses remains a challenge but some innovative work is underway to address this. In Alston the local community are supporting a recruitment campaign by highlighting what makes the area unique and in Brampton the League of Friends (LoF) is working with the University of Cumbria to increase the number of nurses who return to practice. Brampton LoF also funded a recruitment fair in Carlisle in December where a number of new staff were successfully recruited.
Val Buchanan, CPFT Senior Network Manager, commented: “We know we don’t have all the answers but by working with communities we can use their passion and commitment to local health services to support our recruitment efforts.”
Pressures on services are present all year round but tend to increase in the winter. It is hoped that by learning lessons, organisations can make improvements across the system to better prepare for the winter ahead. Andrew Brittlebank, Medical Director, added:
“It’s great to see the hard work of our community teams being recognised across the north as part of the wider urgent care system. We know that there is more to do but we have made great progress in the past year. By continuing to work closer with our partners we can rethink the role of community hospitals to enable them to better meet the needs of patients.”
This Winter Debrief event was hosted by North of England Commissioning Support (NECS) in Sunderland earlier this month.