NHS launch plan to improve care by cutting long hospital stays

Speaking at the annual NHS Confederation conference at  Simon Stevens and Ian Dalton, the Chief Executives of NHS England and NHS Improvement, will set out the plans which will also help to free up thousands of hospital beds and ease pressures next winter.

Shorter stays will benefit patients who would otherwise be stuck in hospital when they are well enough to leave as well as freeing up beds for those who are sicker. Many older people, particularly those who are frail and may have dementia, actually deteriorate while in hospital.

Nearly 350,000 patients spend more than three weeks in a hospital each year. That is around a fifth of beds, or the equivalent of 36 hospitals. Some patients need to be there for medical reasons but many do not. The NHS, working with local authorities, aims to reduce the number of long staying patients by around a quarter.

The joint announcement comes as the NHS is drawing up plans for next winter after having been hit by a perfect storm of bad weather, flu and stomach bugs, along with record A&E attendances and emergency admissions, in the winter just gone.

Simon Stevens said: “Over this past year hospitals and local councils have successfully worked together and have turned the corner on delays in patients being discharged. Now they need to go further in order to ensure patients are treated with dignity and looked after in the right setting for them.”

Ian Dalton said: “No one wants patients to stay in hospital longer than they have to, but this is happening all too often. By setting this national ambition and working with trusts and local systems to deliver it, we will help more patients to recover safely and as quickly as possible, while ensuring that hospital resources are used for those who need them most.“

Sally Copley, Director of Policy and Campaigns at Alzheimer’s Society, said: “For too long people with dementia have been pulled from pillar to post in our not-fit-for-purpose health and social care system. It’s great to see the Government sitting up and taking this issue seriously with an integrated approach, and more support for care home staff is definitely welcome.”