Initiative sees thousands of hospital patients discharged earlier

Western Sussex Hospitals chief executive Marianne Griffiths
Western Sussex Hospitals chief executive Marianne Griffiths

Thousands more patients were discharged before 3pm from Worthing Hospital last year, thanks to an innovative improvement project.

Led by staff at Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Worthing Hospital, Southlands Hospital in Shoreham and St Richard’s, in Chichester, the ‘Putting patients first through earlier discharges home’ initiative has benefited hospital patients ready to leave, new patients in need of emergency care, hospital staff and the wider health system.

The trust is inviting people to find out more about the project at its annual general meeting, which will be held on Thursday, July 25, at St Richard’s Hospital.

Trust chief executive Dame Marianne Griffiths will open proceedings with a reflection on 2018/19 before taking questions from the audience.

The centre-piece of this year’s agenda is a clinical-presentation from doctors, nurses and therapists who will explain the benefits for patients delivered by their earlier discharge improvement project.

For example, in the past year, 16 pilot wards discharged 3,600 more patients before 3pm than in the year before, and 2,284 fewer patients waited more than four hours in A&E, despite attendances increasing by four per cent over the same period.

Chief medical officer Dr George Findlay said: “Our staff have worked very hard over the past year to develop new solutions to old problems that have unfortunately become common in hospitals throughout England.

“I am very proud that, consequently, we have been able to discharge thousands more patients during the day when more comprehensive community, social and primary care services are available to support them.

Traditionally, the average time that patients are discharged from hospital has been around 5pm, but the peak time patients from A&E require admission is much earlier, approximately 10.30am. The improvement project aimed to address this imbalance by devising new ways of joint-working that enable earlier discharges. This, in turn, means more specialist ward beds become available earlier in the day when they are most needed.

In the first year of the project, this amounted to nearly 3,600 more beds for patients requiring urgent admission from A&E.

Dr Findlay said: “As a result, these patients benefited from transferring to specialty care teams in the day-time, when the full ward team is present, with more consultant, therapeutic, pharmacy, diagnostic and equipment support available. Our teams have therefore improved patient experience for thousands of people in the last 12 months, providing safer and quicker admission to our specialist medical wards.”

The presentation will also explain how the project helped the trust achieve the ninth-best A&E performance in England.

The meeting will be held from 6pm to 8pm at the Chichester Medical Education Centre at St Richard’s Hospital. The agenda will be available at www.westernsussexhospitals.nhs.uk. To book a free place, email events@wsht.nhs.uk or call 01903 205111, extension 84038.