An update on the medicine business unit was provided to last Thursday’s (January 24) board meeting of Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.
This unit covers everything from emergency care, acute medicine and critical care to the stroke, cardiology, respiratory and rheumatology departments and care for the elderly.
Emergency-department performance has improved with better results in the first three quarters of the 2018-19 financial year than the previous year.
The number of patients being seen within four hours in emergency and urgent-care centres rose from 93.4% to 98.3% for quarter one, 95.1% to 96.8% in quarter two, and 93.5% to 95% in quarter three. The national target is 95%, which has been hit in all three quarters this year by Northumbria.
Other highlights include the continued reduction in the number of falls in the area’s hospitals, which was put down to the continuing success of the trust’s supportive observation policy, which sets out a framework for staff to follow when patients are considered to be at risk of harm to themselves or others.
While not as stark a drop, Northumbria Healthcare has also seen a reduction this year in the number of patients with a stay in hospital over 21 days, with the target being hit at various points since April last year and consistently in December and January.
An adult patient who has been in an acute bed for 21 days or longer is defined as a long-stay patient and the NHS keeps track of this because ‘there is strong evidence that long stays in hospital lead to patient deconditioning, harm to patients and unnecessary additional demands on health and care services. Tackling long stays in hospital will reduce harm, disability and cost’.
The FAQs document, published by NHS England and NHS Improvement, adds: ‘Of the 300,000 patients who spend over three weeks in hospital around 5-20% are medically unwell; 15-20% are patients who require an alternate level of care from another provider not available; and 60-80% are patients whose extended length of stay could be avoided either at the point of admission or shortly after to avoid decompensating and long stay or by addressing process failures further through the pathway.’
Patients with serious conditions that require longer stays are still counted in the figures, but it is important to note that the ambition does not expect all 21-plus-day stays to be eradicated.
Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service