NHS gets set for a busy winter ahead

The Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital
The Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital

Health and social care organisations in the North East are fine-tuning their winter preparations.

Hospitals in the region are receivingalmost £14million for homecare and reablement packages to help support patients to go home as soon as they can.

Learning from last year’s pressures, hospitals have mechanisms in place and have introduced new ways of working to deal with surges in demand.

Across the region, hundreds of beds can be allocated as dedicated ‘winter beds’ during surges, for example, for respiratory-related admissions which increase as temperatures fall.

Dedicated areas to assist patients to transfer to home are also in place. These give patients a comfortable space to wait in before returning home and help ensure they leave hospitals with the correct medicines and paperwork. They also help to free up bed space on wards as promptly as possible.

A&E departments face huge demand in winter and ‘streaming’ is in place in major A&Es so that patients with non-emergency illness are seen as quickly as possible.

Having been hit hard by norovirus and flu last winter, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trustis taking what it learnt from responding to these outbreaks and increasing its infection control efforts.

Changes have also been made at The Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital to improve the flow of patients in the emergency department.

Dr Mark Harrison, emergency medicine consultant, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Winter is always a busy time and we’ve done a lot to prepare.”