End Of The Line For Flintshire Bed Blocking

A new high-tech link with Flintshire Social Services is set to help curb bed blocking at the Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in Cheshire.A 24/7 electronic referral system, which has already helped the hospital to cut delayed discharge days with its English patients by 55%, is being extended to include Flintshire Social Services.

The move means that nursing staff can notify social workers 24 hours a day of the status of patients who have been referred to Social Services – without having to wait for office hours and through a secure electronic communications link.

Previously, nurses at the Countess had to telephone or fax Flintshire Social Services to discuss patients’ needs; now they can send patients’ requirements directly from the hospital ward to the Flintshire Social Services offices. The technology ensures that patients do not have to spend longer than they need to in hospital, and that when they do leave, they are discharged appropriately with all the necessary care services already in place.

The decision to extend the system’s capability was taken following research which revealed that delayed discharges at the 625-bed hospital had been more than halved since installed to link up with Cheshire Social Services. Senior Duty Officer Jane Pospiech at Flintshire Social Services explains: “Before Medisec, a significant proportion of team time was spent ringing the hospital wards to get updates on a patient’s status. We would have to check whether they were ready to be discharged and take down case details such as personal, family and medical information over the phone. Now, we can just click on the system to access the latest information – it’s a big time saver for both us and ward staff.”

Standardised discharge forms also make it easier for nurses to provide all the necessary information directly to the people who can act upon it. Social services have instant access to vital patient information such as next-of-kin, mobility, mental state and any changes that occur, such as a change of ward or patient’s discharge date.

Pat Roberts, Discharge Liaison Team Leader at the Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust added: “Before the nurses would have to use a separate paper-based discharge system for Flintshire patients; now we can standardise the whole discharge liaison process across the hospital. It’s a very slick system. We can issue notices to social services and check up on the status of a patient at the touch of button, so it’s certainly helped us to cut down on a lot of time-consuming phone calls. We can also tell how many patients from Flintshire are in the hospital at any given time – which helps social services teams to manage case loads.”

Receiving complete, accurate and up-to-date patient information enables Social Services staff to prepare an appropriate package of care for the patient’s timely return to the discharge destination, and ultimately to help them to maintain their independence.

The technology allows social services to begin planning for the discharge of patients particularly with more complex needs at a much earlier stage. Knowing what patient needs are on the horizon also helps social services management to plan team workloads more efficiently.


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