New report highlights ways the independent sector is working with the NHS to reduce delayed discharges of care

David Hare

A new report from the NHS Partners Network has highlighted examples where the independent sector is working with the NHS to avoid delayed discharges of care. 

Reducing delayed discharge – where often frail and elderly patients are unable to leave hospital due to necessary care, support or accommodation in the community being unavailable – is arguably one of the biggest priorities facing the NHS.

The examples include: 

- providing extra back-up capacity for NHS hospitals at the weekend;
- providing supported discharge services which allow patients to receive complex clinical care in their home via ‘virtual wards’;
- providing nursing home support packages with extra capacity for acute trusts which in turn helps to prevent admissions in the first place;
- improving the referral pathways and admission criteria for patients who no longer need acute care, but need extra support until they are fully ready to return home.

With unprecedented levels of demand on the health service, it is vital that all available local resource is utilised to ensure NHS patients get the care they need. Key to achieving this is NHS trust leaders knowing the full capacity and capability available in their local area, both in the NHS as well as the independent sector.

One success factor is the ability to have open and honest conversations with staff to ensure patients were getting the best possible care, modifying the service as needed. Engaging with clinicians and involving them in the service design, with a focus on constant improvement, is a must. Equally, putting the right frameworks in place so that organisations working together have clear lines of responsibilities is vital in ensuring patients get the best possible care.

David Hare, chief executive, NHS Partners Network, said: “While the causes of delayed transfers of care are complex and there will be no one-size-fits-all model to tackle the issue, this report clearly demonstrates that NHS/ independent sector partnerships can help reduce delayed discharge – providing real benefits to patients as well as efficiencies across the health system.

“And as the NHS, through Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships, seeks to improve the coordination of NHS funded services, examples such as those described in this report serve as a timely reminder of his public and independent bodies are already collaborating to meet patients’ needs.”

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