Over the past year an improvement project has seen an increase of over 1,000 more patients being discharged in the morning from 14 wards at Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
The achievement follows the introduction of the Patient First improvement project at the trust, which runs St Richard’s and Worthing hospitals.
“Our medical, nursing, therapies and pharmacy teams are working together in the best interests of our patients”
More than 1,200 more inpatients left Worthing Hospital and St Richard’s Hospital in Chichester in the morning over the last 12 months, said the trust thanks to the pilot project.
The pilot wards included Balcombe, Becket, Boxgrove, Castle, Durrington, Eartham, Eastbrook, Emergency Floor Worthing, Emergency Floor St Richard’s, Erringham, Fishbourne and Petworth.
Over the past year, 45% of patients from these wards were discharged before 3pm – up from only 30% the year before. A further 18 wards are now signing up to the improvement project.
In addition to helping patients return home earlier in the day, the pilot wards have also admitted a higher number of patients this year – on average, around 13 more a week – said the trust.
Trust chief operating officer, Jayne Black, said: “Our early discharge improvement project is about doing what’s best for patients, both those ready to leave hospital, as well as others in need of a ward bed.
“We know patients prefer to be discharged in the morning, which means they can benefit from better community, social and primary care services available during the day,” she said.
“It also means more patients can be admitted sooner onto wards, so they too can benefit from our specialist consultant, therapeutic and diagnostic support services,” she added.
This winter, the trust said its early discharge improvement project had helped it care for an “unprecedented” number of patients while, at the same time, reducing reliance on agency staff.
Since 1 April 2018, 60,000 patients have required emergency admission onto wards at St Richard’s and Worthing hospitals – an increase of 6.4% on the year before.
High demand usually forces hospitals to open more beds, which not only places a greater burden on staff but costs much more as expensive agency personnel are hired to provide extra cover.
However, despite admitting more patients than ever before over the past 12 months, the trust opened fewer beds and reduced agency spend by £1.8m.
This was only possible because of the early discharge project and the trust’s other Patient First innovations, such as expanded ambulatory care areas, introduced through this year’s winter planning.
Trust chief medical officer, Dr George Findlay, said: “At Western Sussex Hospitals, we are committed to finding new ways to help us continue to provide excellent quality care, to ever more people.
“Our medical, nursing, therapies and pharmacy teams are working together in the best interests of our patients to overcome historical ways of doing things that had become entrenched,” he said.
“I am incredibly proud of everyone involved in this Patient First improvement project – their shared focus has been excellent and the benefits for both patients and staff are simply phenomenal,” he added.