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Ipswich Hospital cuts the number of beds wasted from 80 to 13 in five months

PUBLISHED: 16:32 17 July 2017

Ipswich Hospital. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Ipswich Hospital. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Strengthened efforts to tackle bed-blocking at Ipswich Hospital have paid off, with the trust freeing up 67 beds in less than five months.

In November last year, the trust hit crisis point with 80 beds - equivalent to 15.4% of its supply - filled with patients who did not need to be there but whose discharge had been delayed due to a hold-up either within the hospital or in the community. The national NHS target is no more than 3.5%.

This sparked the creation of a taskforce made up of professionals across the health and social care sector in Ipswich to try and address the problem by breaking down “organisational barriers”.

The group met regularly, putting together daily action plans, and by December 2016 the percentage of bed-blockers at the hospital was halved to 7.3% (39).

At the end of March this year, just 2.5% (13) of Ipswich’s beds were taken up unnecessarily.

Neill Moloney, Ipswich Hospital’s managing director, said: “We owe it to our patients to do whatever we can to make sure they do not spend longer in hospital than necessary. Often, patients who face delays in their discharge from hospital are older people and every day we can give back to them is precious.

“We’ve been working with our local health and social care colleagues to tackle this issue together and are pleased to see this drop in the number of patients whose discharge is delayed. This isn’t the end of the issue and the hard work with colleagues continues to make sure patients only stay in hospital when they need to.”

The taskforce is still in place and it works to tackle bed-blocking at Ipswich Hospital by focussing on three main areas: A&E, inpatient wards and discharge.

Beccy Hopfensperger, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for adult care, said: “It is pleasing to see the work of the taskforce having a positive effect and we remain determined to work with our partners and work across the whole social care and health system to ensure the reductions in delays continues.”

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