Ten ways to free up beds at Blackpool hospitals

Proposals could help free up hospital beds
Proposals could help free up hospital beds
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Councillors have put forward 10 recommendations to health chiefs which they hope will help cut patient waiting times and reduce hospital bed shortages.

The proposals are the result of a scrutiny review launched last July by members of Blackpool Council's adult social care and health scrutiny committee.

Coun Jim Hobson

Coun Jim Hobson

Recommendations range from discouraging too many relatives from accompanying patients to A&E to using social media to alert people about waiting times at the walk in centre.

Councillors spoke to health chiefs including Wendy Swift, chief executive at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, and David Rigby, senior manager at the North West Ambulance Service, in order to compile their findings.

Their review focused on the key issues of A&E waiting times, ambulance handovers of patients when they reach hospital, delayed transfers of care, bed shortages and the role of the Winter Plan in handling increased patient numbers.

Committee chairman Coun Jim Hobson said: "The committee made the decision to undertake this review based on a number of concerns raised during consideration of Blackpool Clinical Commissioning Group key performance data."

He added: "The importance of the Winter Plan was also revealed when it was shown the increased demand on services during winter had a knock on effect throughout the year and services were often playing 'catch up'.

"This was the first scrutiny review undertaken since I became chairman and the subject matter was wide ranging and has a significant impact on patients and their families."

The committee agreed the scrutiny should be forwarded to the council's executive for consideration.

The recommendations:

Introduce a policy to limit the number of family and friends attending A&E with patients to reduce the appearance of a full department and free up seating.

Investigate the extended access scheme for GP appointments which currently sees only 65 per cent of appointments utilised.

Explore the impact of delays in receiving prescriptions which slows down patient discharges from hospital.

Look at offering parking facilities for staff, including social workers, who need to visit BVH to help with discharging patients.

Work with partners to review discharge processes.

Improve relationships between the hospital and care homes.

Use social media to send out alerts about A&E waiting times, walk in centre waiting times and available GP appointments.

Install signage prior to the car park entrance alerting people to waiting times.

Offer parking refunds to people who have attended A&E inappropriately so they are more likely seek alternative treatment instead of waiting at BVH simply because they have already paid to park.

Blackpool Council to consider how signs around the town can be used to promote positive NHS messages.