As we look back on the colder winter months, we saw another winter crisis in the NHS. This past year, despite the cuts, planning to meet the pressures expected over the winter months began at the beginning of August with all partner organisations represented. Analysis of what had worked well the previous year and what required improvement was undertaken and new ideas explored to assist the Acute hospitals during their busiest times. A formal plan was produced, report on to the North East Sector Urgent Care Board where it was felt Bury’s arrangements were robust and an exemplar for other authorities.
The Winter Panning Group continued to meet weekly at Killelea and plans were seen as dynamic, changing to reflect the changes in admission rates, acuity of patients etc. Bury Adult Care Services were represented at these meetings by either the Head of Service responsible for the hospital Integrated Discharge Team and Choices for Living Well or the Interim Assistant Director for Adult social Care Operations.
New “Discharge to Assess”, known as “D2A beds” were commissioned at Heathlands in a newly refurbished unit where all nursing care could be provided, and final assessments undertaken by the D2A team on one site. 12 beds were originally blocked purchased, with an option to increase to 19 if demand increased.
Fairfield General have, since the end of November experienced unprecedented levels of attendances at A&E resulting in much higher rates of admissions to their beds which has increased pressures on the Integrated Discharge Team to increase the number of discharges. The team have been pivotal in ensuring that people are discharged when they are not only ‘medically optimised’ but their onward destination is appropriate and safe. They have focused on the needs of the person in the bed not just the need to release the bed.
Acuity of patients has been extremely high and some very poorly people have been transferred to Bealeys community hospital to continue their treatment and recovery and Killelea have been praised for their flexible approach to receiving patients ready to be discharged. Without the support from Bury council services the hospital could not cope. There have been higher than normal ambulance attendances at Fairfield with 98 Ambulance conveyances on one day, a number higher than at North Manchester General Hospital.
Cllr Andrea Simpson, Cabinet Member for Health and Wellebing, said: “We continue to work to support the system but unfortunately, the challenges facing health and social care are not abating. We will continue to invest in additional IDT staffing, the purchase of more D2A capacity and the creation of a Trusted Assessor role to decrease the time taken for providers to come to the hospital to assess patients.”