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Innovative scheme to tackle hospital pressures

emergency department

Hospital staff are taking a new approach to tackling delays in the emergency department this week by launching a new ‘breaking the cycle’ initiative.

Bosses at Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust said flooding the wards with additional clinicians over a five day period should ensure all patients are admitted, treated and discharged to the right place, at the right time. Every ward will have a named doctor, nurse and manager to support driving flow and safety; and managers and clinicians during the week will be diverted from all other activities to focus on improvements at a departmental and ward level.

The ambitious plan, which has been borrowed from a hospital in Bath, will aim to ‘break the cycle’ of delays and missed A&E targets at the Trust which runs Birmingham Heartlands, Good Hope and Solihull Hospital and Community Services.

Additional winter pressures in the Trust’s emergency departments, caused by issues such as unexpected peaks in activity and a lack of hospital beds, has meant performance on the four-hour target, which should be met for 95 per cent of patients, dropped to 90 per cent in recent months. But Adrian Stokes, the new Director of Emergency Pathway transformation, said the ‘breaking the cycle’ scheme would help nurses and junior doctors make correct decisions about the pathways patients follow, freeing up staff and beds across the hospitals and improving the flow through the emergency departments.

Adrian said: “The aim of the initiative is to focus intensely on improving patient flow and patient safety. It will also help staff see how, in some cases, patients could be better cared for at home or in the community, and to identify and fast-track those cases. This will happen right across the wards and will provide us with additional learning so we can improve things on a permanent basis.”

During the week, each ward will have twice daily consultant-led ward rounds and every patient in every bed will be reviewed to see if they are fit for discharge from hospital. Support services will also be key to the week with timely response to requests and the Trust will also be launching its new Patient Flow Bundle, a set of evidenced-based actions that, if implemented routinely across the hospitals, will lead to improved patient flow, patient safety and experience. The adoption of best practice, inpatient flow and discharge processes will also be accelerated during the week.

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