Well-again patients held up in hospital

By Harriet Ernstsons Friday 08 February 2013 Updated: 08/02 15:19

ELDERLY people are being forced to wait up to five weeks to be discharged from hospital after they are deemed well enough to leave.

Figures obtained by the Standard show patients above the age of 65 have waited up to an extra 35 days in Worcestershire Royal Hospital for reasons including adaptations needing to be made in their own property or a space not being available in a care home.

In total, 50 over 65s faced a delay in being discharged from the hospital between January 1 and November 1, last year, with a total of 105 occurrences during that time and an average wait of eight days after the patient was well enough to leave.

Delays have also been faced by patients at the Alexandra Hospital. A total of 63 patients were waiting for an average of nine days 207 times at the Woodrow Drive site, with the longest wait 36 days.

Stewart Messer, chief operating officer for Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, said the organisation was working with other health economy partners to minimise delayed discharges, with plans made from the time the patient enters the hospital and a team of discharge liaison nurses working in the county.

"At the Trust we review all patients through a system called POND (patients over nine days). Each ward identifies every patient who has been in hospital for over nine days and we look in detail as to how teams can be supported in delivering discharges and reducing length of stay," he added.

"We use electronic whiteboards on all wards that are populated with patients' expected dates of discharge. This system flags up visually all delayed discharges and these are then actioned by the clinical and nursing teams."

Jonathan Monks, Worcestershire County Council's hospital and access manager, said although the figures showed there was still room for improvement, the overall performance was good in ensuring a timely discharge from acute care.

"Long-term plans for older people can involve life-changing decisions and sometimes people's situations are very complex. We will usually move people from the acute hospital whilst these plans are being made but it is not always possible," he said.

"It is vitally important we get these plans right, both for the individual's quality of life, and to ensure that public money is being used effectively."

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