NUH faces challenging winter with difficulties in patients being discharged from hosptial

Queen's Medical Centre.
By Anna Whittaker, Local Democracy Reporter

Emergency care will be the biggest issue for local hospitals this winter as hundreds of patients are unable to be discharged from hospital, NHS leaders have said.

Nottingham University Hospitals (NUH) Trust currently has 172 patients who are medically fit for discharge but cannot leave the trust due to social care pressures, bosses told a board meeting on November 24.

In September, NUH declared its second critical incident in three months after identifying 213 patients who were ‘medically fit for discharge’ at the time.

It meant some patients had operations cancelled.

Chair of the trust’s board Nick Carver said during the meeting: “The most challenging situation we face is the emergency care situation this winter.

“To some extent, we make that more difficult. For example, East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) would say we’re a good partner, we take their patients in rather than keeping ambulances waiting.

“We have some things within our control, the target is 64 fit for discharge patients in this organisation.

“It’s frequently 180 to 200. Many of the issues we have talked about would be at worst considerably eased if the 172 was closer to 64.”

Chief Executive Anthony May added that NUH’s issues “should be owned by everybody” in the local NHS system.

He said: “NUH is the biggest component in a very big system and what happens to NUH does make a difference to other parts of the system.

“Increasingly there is a recognition that both us and Sherwood Forest are big players in that machine.

“I have spent a lot of time on the wards in the last few weeks and there is no doubt that even patients who are medically safe for discharge need an awful lot of support and help to get home or go to a place of safety.

“If we can get people through the hospital quicker, and out to a place of safety actually there is a win-win in that for us and local authority partners.”

Speaking of winter pressures, non-executive director Mark Chivers added: “We’re talking a lot about the supply of beds because that is in our control. My worry is actually about demand. 

“We’re heading into a season of industrial action, utility bills are going through the roof, we’ve got inflation and who knows what the weather is going to be.
“What I don’t want is a conversation where we are talking about 20 beds but actually we get hit with a 200-bed demand because of the conditions in the economy at the moment.
“That’s my concern.”
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