Solving Bed Blocking in the NHS

23 October 2016



Delayed transfers of care hit the highest level in August since monthly data started to be collected six years ago, the HSJ recently reported, with 6,448 patients measured as delayed. This is a serious problem in the NHS that needs to be addressed.

Bed blocking is a complex issue, combining financial issues, patient flow management, ability of carers to cope, lack of available resources in the community, inadequate aids and adaptations, difficulties in choosing the right care environment on discharge and a lack of weekend services. A study by the National Audit Office indicates that it costs the NHS a minimum of £800m a year.

PwC linked up with Common Purpose recently, bringing together senior leaders from across the healthcare system in West Yorkshire to explore the question “How can the NHS and suppliers work together more effectively to ensure the 30% of patients unnecessarily occupying hospital beds can live or be cared for independently faster?”. The ideas generated collaboratively are offering real solutions to this age-old problem.

During a two-day programme PwC worked with colleagues from West Yorkshire Association of Acute Trusts, Association of British Healthcare Industries and Yorkshire & Humber Academic Health Science Network, to address the problem of delayed discharges, as part of Common Purpose’s InnoVenture event, that takes an experiential approach to find innovative solutions and improve leadership learning.

Over the two day event, four model prototypes emerged and were presented to a panel of key senior stakeholders from the region:

  1. Safer Today, Safer Tomorrow Hospitals offer a 'discharge guarantee'. By using digital technology to monitor patients in their own homes and provide tele-nursing, patients can be discharged earlier with the reassurance that they can be readmitted to hospital if needed.

  2. Plan 4 Home The development of a social enterprise that invests in smart, collaborative solutions across the region and benefits local NHS Trusts by working with partners such as nursing and residential homes to bring down discharge times.

  3. Person-led Care Creating a hospital ward environment designed to replicate a patient's home and encourage them to care for themselves, e.g. cooking as they might at home. Family members/carers are encouraged to take part in this rehabilitation e.g. administering medicines, so that the transition from acute care to care at home becomes more seamless.

  4. The Community of Care Most discharge planning starts once a patient has received their acute treatment. Within a Community of Care discharge planning would start as soon as a patient is admitted to hospital and involves family/carers and other support services too - for example nursing home/community support providers. This would start the rehab process at a much earlier stage.

Participants described it as one of the best events they had ever attended and there are now two funding applications to take the discharge promise app and Enterprise models forward.

Mike Farrar, PwC Public Sector Health Board, described his experience of the day, “The ability to collaborate and build new Public Private Partnerships is immense. It just shows what happens when you bring people together and give them a challenge and a great process to help them work on it!”

Watch this video to find out more.

Karen Finlayson | Partner
Email |  +44 (0)1132894167

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