Blackpool Victoria Hospital is hiring a new team of workers to free-up beds by discharged patients who are ready to go home.
Six ‘discharge facilitators’ will aim to prevent so-called bed blocking – when patients fit to leave hospital take up room waiting to be sent home.
Roz Bradshaw, from Urgent Care, said they will ‘get to know patients and understand what needs to be in place to ensure safe and timely discharges’.
He said: “This can be equipment, care packages, or family assistance. We will ensure the support is in place for the patient before they move from hospital to an appropriate care setting.”
The workers will be based on the wards and be involved in doctors’ rounds and meetings, and be a point of contact for patients, families, nursing homes, and healthcare workers.
Funded for 23 months by the county council’s Better Care Fund, two staff have already been brought in, with the other four expected to start ‘imminently’, the hospital said.
Dan Standring, who started a week ago, said: “We are the eyes and ears between the wards, the nurses, the social workers, and the patient.
“We can enhance discharge planning and communication to get the patient to a place of care safely and in a timely manner.”
Until now, ward staff have had to organise discharges themselves, a task that can be delayed while more pressing issues are dealt with.
Last month, The Gazette revealed how hundreds of patients a week are stuck in Lancashire hospitals, even though they were well enough to be discharged.
Every week, more than 700 days are lost across the county because beds are taken by patients who don’t need or wants to be in hospital. The number has risen in the past 12 months, blamed on a lack of government funding.
Coun Amy Cross, Blackpool Council’s cabinet member for adult services and health, said part of the challenge was reducing the number of people going to hospital in the first place.
And Paul Maynard, MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys, said: “It is important we have a system where patients are able to move from hospital to social care when it is appropriate to do so.”