Early discharges: “Doing what’s best for patients”

Monday March 25, 2019

More than 1,200 more inpatients left Worthing Hospital and St Richard’s Hospital in Chichester in the morning over the last 12 months, thanks to a major improvement project piloted on 14 medical wards.

In addition to helping patients return home earlier in the day, the pilot wards at Western Sussex Hospitals have also admitted a higher number of patients this year – on average, around 13 more a week.

Our early discharge improvement project is about doing what’s best for patients

Chief operating officer, Jayne Black, said: “Our early discharge improvement project is about doing what’s best for patients, both those ready to leave hospital, as well as others in need of a ward bed.

“We know patients prefer to be discharged in the morning, which means they can benefit from better community, social and primary care services available during the day.

“It also means more patients can be admitted sooner onto wards, so they too can benefit from our specialist consultant, therapeutic and diagnostic support services.”

This winter, the early discharge improvement project has helped the trust care for an unprecedented number of patients while, at the same time, reducing reliance on agency staff.

Since 1 April 2018, 60,000 patients have required emergency admission onto wards at St Richard’s and Worthing hospitals – an increase of 6.4% on the year before.

High demand usually forces hospitals to open more beds, which not only places a greater burden on staff but costs much more as expensive agency personnel are hired to provide extra cover.

However, despite admitting more patients than ever before over the past 12 months, the trust opened fewer beds and reduced agency spend by £1.8m.

This was only possible because of the early discharge project and the trust’s other Patient First innovations, such as expanded Ambulatory Care Areas, introduced through this year’s winter planning.

Chief medical officer, Dr George Findlay, said: “At Western Sussex Hospitals, we are committed to finding new ways to help us continue to provide excellent quality care, to ever more people.

“Our medical, nursing, therapies and pharmacy teams are working together in the best interests of our patients to overcome historical ways of doing things that had become entrenched.

“I am incredibly proud of everyone involved in this Patient First improvement project – their shared focus has been excellent and the benefits for both patients and staff are simply phenomenal.

“We are also very grateful for all the support from our health and social care partners who are instrumental to helping many of our patients leave hospital earlier in the day.”

The pilot wards at St Richard’s and Worthing included Balcombe, Becket, Boxgrove, Castle, Durrington, Eartham, Eastbrook, Emergency Floor Worthing, Emergency Floor St Richard’s, Erringham, Fishbourne and Petworth.

Over the past year, 45% of patients from these wards were discharged before 3pm – up from only 30% the year before. A further 18 wards are now signing up to the improvement project

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