HEALTH and social care professionals from across Shropshire have explored new ways of getting patients to leave hospital sooner to help their recovery.

Representatives from 10 organisations spent a week working together to improve the way patients are discharged from hospital.

The initiative has been led by Shrewsbury and Telford Hospitals NHS Trust (SaTH) Transforming Care Institute, who partner the Virginia Mason Institute – the USA’s ‘Hospital of the Decade’ - and builds on evidence that shows patients make a better recovery if they leave hospital as soon as they are well enough, provided they have the right support in place.

Liam Allman-Evitts, head of capacity at SaTH, said: “Last month, more than 400 patients required support from our partners in order for them to be discharged from our hospitals.

“We have incredibly talented and committed people working within SaTH and the community teams, yet despite their hard work too many of our patients, especially the frail and the elderly, are spending more days in hospital than they should.

“Everyone involved in complex discharge planning strives to do their best by patients on a daily basis but sometimes, as a collective, we fall short because we are paying attention to the wrong things – the system and the processes we are used to, the way things are currently done and the time scales we have come to accept. “By spending a week as one large team we have had a unique opportunity to work together and put patients’ time at the centre of everything and understand where time is wasted and what can be done differently.”

During the week the team identified ways to alleviate delays and inconsistencies that mean patients are staying in hospital longer than necessary.

Proposals included: Introducing a complex discharge icon to the hospitals’ touchscreen patient information boards; joint working between occupational therapists and physiotherapists; videos and leaflets to explain discharge plans and producing booklets for each hospital ward to make staff more aware of the discharge plans available for patients with specific needs

Tanya Miles and Sarah Dillon, assistant directors at Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin Councils, added: “As local authorities we are committed to working with our health colleagues to ensure people return home from hospital as soon as possible .

“Our integrated teams, work extremely hard to support people to be discharged from hospital as soon as they are well, and help people avoid hospital admissions. This year their efforts have paid off in that we exceeded the targets that had been set nationally in reducing delayed transfers of care. Whilst we are pleased with this reduction rate, we know that there this is more work to be done in this area, especially for those complex discharge cases."

Nigel Lee, chief operating officer at SaTH, said: “I am incredibly impressed with how much has achieved in such a small space of time. There is still more to be done but I am confident that the work being done this week will enable patients to be discharged sooner and make a swifter recovery. “Helping people leave our hospitals sooner also means that we can free up hospital beds for others who need them.”