Jan Sobieraj: How we discharge patients from Lincolnshire hospitals

We have seen increased demand on our services recently. This not only has an impact on our patients, who can wait longer to be seen and treated, it also puts undue stress on our staff, who are working tirelessly to ensure our patients receive good quality and timely care.

I’d like to thank them publicly for their hard work, professionalism and commitment.

Our hospitals have teams working to ensure we have plans in place to discharge patients when they are ready to leave.

If you are acutely unwell, then hospital is the best place to be, but it is important that you are discharged once you are medically fit otherwise this can have an adverse effect on your ongoing recovery.

There’s lots of evidence that long stays can harm you. Every patient who comes into hospital has an estimated discharge date but sometimes these can be delayed for a variety of reasons.

To address this we have introduced new approaches to prevent unnecessary delays and improve patient experience.

These include SAFER, a set of standards to improve the movement of patients in, around and out of hospital.

At Lincoln we are introducing a visual system called Red and Green to help identify wasted time in a patient’s journey and reduce unnecessary blockages.

Pilgrim Hospital has implemented the Pride and Joy system, which involves the sickest patients being reviewed as a priority before 10am and agreeing planned discharges for the day.

The teams will then meet again in the afternoon to ensure the plans agreed during the morning are completed the same day.

We work closely with our partners including the community trust and social care to discharge patients when they are medically fit to leave hospital but we also need support from our patients and carers in their care and discharge date.

Although you might have come in by ambulance you will need to organise your transport back home. If you don’t drive can you arrange for a relative or friend to come and collect you?

It’s also important to make sure you have everything you need at home when you return from the hospital to help you in your recovery including food, supplies, medication and support.

We have increased the availability of our pharmacy and therapy services so that patients can access these seven days a week during the winter period.

We are also looking at how we reduce the number of people being admitted to hospital unnecessarily.

One of these initiatives is a care home project which involves a team of ULHT doctors, nurses and therapists who are starting to visit every nursing and residential home in the Lincoln area over the next two years.

The team assesses every resident of every home, including reviewing medications and assessments of cognition, mobility, mental capacity and future care needs.

In the first three months since the team visited one care home in Lincoln, the number of hospital admissions for their residents reduced by 64% compared with the previous quarter.