Suffolk & North East Essex Shadow Integrated Care System

Funding for NHS community services will reduce long stays in hospitals

September 2018

A new scheme to reduce unnecessary long hospital stays is set to be rolled out across the NHS. Under new national guidance, health leaders in different parts of the country will be expected to allocate extra funding to community services like district nursing teams and outreach clinics to help them care for more patients, freeing up hospital beds and staff.

As well as being better for those patients who could otherwise get stuck on wards, the initiative will create more capacity for patients requiring routine operations such as hip and knee replacements, reduce waiting lists and help hospital bosses to manage periods of extra pressure on emergency care services. Nearly 350,000 patients spend more than three weeks in a hospital each year. That is around a fifth of beds, or the equivalent of 36 hospitals.

Some patients need to be there for medical reasons but many could go home or may never have needed to be admitted if alternative services were more readily available.

The new Excess bed days initiative is part of a series of measures the health service is taking to reduce the number of long-staying patients by 25%.

Pauline Philip, the National Director for Urgent and Emergency Care for NHS England, said: “Reducing unnecessarily long stays in hospital is good for patients and makes better use of NHS resources. Anyone over 80 who is in hospital for longer than ten days risks ten years of muscle ageing, so where it’s safe to do so, the health service and councils should work together to get people care closer to home.”