Problems organising the next stage of care mean that there are often delays in discharging elderly and frail patients from hospital. These delays can be upsetting for patients and families, and the cost to the NHS is around £820 million a year.
People who are elderly and frail are more likely to struggle after even a minor illness or a change in medication or environment. These patients’ discharge can take longer as it often involves several different professionals and organisations.
Social care funding cuts are one cause of delays, but they aren’t the only cause.
There are recommended ways to reduce delays, but these aren’t always used across the NHS. We are working with staff from Southmead Hospital in Bristol, the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham and community staff from both areas to understand why this is the case.
We want to find out what happens on wards in these hospitals that might lead to delays in discharge. We will also explore how to facilitate the recommended improvements and address any barriers to adopting them.
The findings will help improve the process of discharging frail and elderly patients from the participating hospitals. It will also provide valuable information for policymakers and healthcare professionals across the UK who may be interested in how to reduce discharge delays for these patients.
- Dr Kyra Neubauer, North Bristol NHS Trust
- Dr Zoe Wyrko, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust
- Professor Sheila Greenfield, NIHR CLAHRC West Midlands
- Dr Gill Combes, NIHR CLAHRC West Midlands