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West Suffolk has the fewest excess bed days

West Suffolk is the best performing area in the country for minimising the amount of time patients stay in hospital longer than is necessary.

Close working between health and social care organisations is one of the key reasons for this success.

Latest figures from NHS England show the NHS West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) area has fewer excess bed days – the term used to describe where people are still in hospital when they no longer need to be there – for its size of population than any of the other 194 CCGs in the country.

In 2017 there were 12.2 excess bed days per 1000 population in west Suffolk, against a national average of 37.8.

The NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk CCG area also performed much better than the national average at 31.3 excess bed days per 1000 population.

While for some patients an extended stay in hospital is medically required, it is well known that a patient’s chances for recovery are improved away from the hospital environment. Some patients are well enough to leave hospital but may need time in a rehabilitation facility or require extra support at home – in these circumstances delays in organising this post-hospital care can result in a longer than necessary hospital stay.

Reducing delays and getting people out of hospital and back into their own home or care home as soon as medically safe to do so is a priority for the local health and social care alliance partners at the CCG, West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust and Suffolk County Council. The hospital is pro-active in having a team dedicated to supporting the timely discharge of patients.

Initiatives to make that happen include the Support to Go Home project where the team aims to make sure patients can still be discharged from hospital if there’s a delayed start date for their out-of-hospital package of care. The team supports patients with washing, dressing, medication prompts and meal preparation.

Dr Ed Garratt, chief officer for both CCGs, said: “This is a really great achievement which highlights how closer working between health and social care is having a positive effect on the lives of people in west Suffolk.

“We have worked in partnership with our NHS colleagues and Suffolk County Council to develop improved ways of working that have reduced duplication, saved time and helped patients get back to their home as quickly as possible.

"No one wants to be in hospital unnecessarily and it's pleasing that we are helping people better recover in their own home. We're also freeing up valuable bed space for those most in need."

Helen Beck, chief operating officer at West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We’re obviously delighted with these results, which go to show the impact positive joint working can have for our patients.

“Prolonged hospital stay and bed rest can lead to loss of muscle power, strength and abilities in patients of any age, so we aim to get patients who are well enough to leave hospital home as soon as possible as it’s best for them and their recovery. Becoming mobilised again after an illness is much easier in your own home, where you feel comfortable and are in your own surroundings with things to do.

“Many of our patients are elderly, and research indicates that for every 10 days of bed rest in hospital, the equivalent of 10 years of muscle ageing occurs in people over 80 years old, which shows the importance of getting up, getting dressed and keeping moving.”

Cllr Beccy Hopfensperger, Suffolk County Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Care, said: “These latest figures by NHS England prove we are achieving better outcomes for the people of Suffolk and we are delighted to be in this position.

“The council and the NHS are very committed to supporting older and disabled people in their own homes – it is what older people and their carers want. It is vital that people receive the right care in the right place at the right time.”


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