Nurses could help trusts to avoid £600m worth of penalties for emergency readmissions, according to a report seen by Nursing Times.
Hospitals have been told that this financial year they would not be paid for patients admitted to accident and emergency within 30 days of having an elective procedure.
In addition, the Department of Health has said payment for emergency readmissions occurring within 30 days of a non-elective admission should be reduced by 25%, although the precise reduction is open to local negotiation.
Figures shared exclusively with Nursing Times’ sister magazine Health Service Journal reveal the total potential loss to hospital income could total £600m in 2011-12.
However, the authors of the report, compiled by data analysts Sg2, suggested many ways in which nurses could help to prevent penalties from being incurred.
For example, they said patients could be provided with a nurse hotline number for immediate assistance if they needed help with care after being discharged.
Nurses could also call patients one or two days after they had left hospital to review medication regimens, they say.
As many readmissions involve patients presenting with complex clinical conditions such as strokes, trusts could ensure “heightened medication compliance” by having nurse stroke specialists provide “customised patient education”.
In cases where a delayed discharge is anticipated, hospital-based nurse consultants could be assigned to serve as a “care integrator” for patients identified as having a high risk of readmission. This would help ensure they were discharged to an appropriate care setting, the report said.