More space needed in community hospitals

MORE space in community hospitals would help Ipswich Hospital deal with bed pressures, it emerged today.

MORE space in community hospitals would help Ipswich Hospital deal with bed pressures, it emerged today.

Andrew Reed, the chief executive of the hospital said extra resources in community hospitals would ease the Heath Road site's current problems.

It has been criticised recently for cancelling too many operations, not treating emergency patients quickly enough and moving people about in the middle of the night.

And although it has improved its performance on reducing delayed transfers of care - when patients are not moved quickly enough through the healthcare system - Mr Reed said more needed to be done to reduce delays, which clog up valuable bed space.

When asked if more beds in community hospitals would help the hospital he said: “Yes is the honest and true answer.

“The number of formal delayed transfers of care is falling. However there are quite a large number of patients who we would deem medically fit for discharge that go through the process of determining their longer term needs.

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“There is sometimes a gap between that process starting and when it is declared a formal delayed transfer of care.”

NHS Suffolk, which co-ordinates healthcare in the county, has pledged to make tackling bed blocking a top priority.

Tracy Dowling, its director of strategic commissioning, said: “Over recent years the number of patients whose discharge from hospital is delayed has improved significantly.

“NHS Suffolk, in partnership with Suffolk County Council and all NHS provider organisations, has pledged to make further improvements this year as part of the urgent care strategic plan.

“The approach will include how organisations work together to ensure that capacity in all health and social care is available to meet patient needs as they arise.”

Meanwhile Graham Newman, Suffolk County Council's adult and community services chief, said: "Over the past few years we have worked very hard to drive down the number of delayed transfers of care, particularly those for patients who will need a service to be arranged by Suffolk County Council.

“We have got the numbers down from the 20s and sometimes 30s in 2006/07 to single figures in recent weeks."

Have you been kept in hospital too long? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.