Beds booked in ‘independent sector’ to ease pressure in Antrim and Coleraine
The Northern Health and Social Care Trust has booked beds in the independent sector in a bid to improve discharge rates at its acute hospitals in Antrim and Coleraine, board members have been told.
Speaking at a meeting of the Trust board on Thursday, Diane Spence, Divisional Director Community Care, said that this capacity will increase from December until March.
“We have been working with the independent sector for contingency beds to be available seven days a week. They are block booked so we can get them quickly.
“Rehabilitation beds will allow us to concentrate staff to pro-actively manage beds and continue to ensure there is throughput and flow through hospitals.
“We are also working regionally with colleagues across the Trusts.”
Diane went on to say that there have been “sustained pressures” since Easter and said that the Trust is anticipating “a very challenging winter”.
She commented: “We do not want to see people staying in hospital for longer than is necessary.”
However, she noted an increase in the number of frail. elderly service users. patients requiring care on a one-to-one basis and those who require a care package when they return home from a hospital stay.
In response to a query over support from family members when a patient is ready to be discharged, she acknowledged that there can be “resistance” adding that there can be “very legitimate reasons”.
She explained that for example, spouses may be elderly themselves which may affect their ability to care or to travel.
She acknowledged that it is “not without its challenges”.
Angela McErlane, Clinical Services Manager for Specialist Medicine, added that clinical staff may become involved to “point out the rationale behind decisions”.
“Some will take quite a bit of explanation which does cause some delay, maybe a 24-hour delay, to get people on the same page.”
In a recent social media post, the Northern Health and Social Care Trust said: “We are asking hospital patients and their families to work with us to support timely discharge in both Antrim and Causeway Hospitals.
“It is important to make sure that those who require acute hospital care receive that in the most appropriate ward.
“The essential co-operation of patients and their families and carers on discharge, will help free up much-needed beds. This may mean that if the services you require are not immediately available, we will offer you a community bed to await your services.”