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NHSE plans 24-hour target for new hospital discharge service

NHS England is developing plans for a new universal ‘community recovery service’ with a 24-hour target to provide ‘step down care’ once a patient is deemed ready to leave hospital, HSJ has revealed.

Slides presented to an NHS England webinar reveal it is seeking to pilot “one single intermediate care step-down service [organised] at place through one lead commissioner”.

It would include a target, or standard, requiring that when patients no longer meet the “criteria to reside in hospital”, they enter the new community recovery service within 24 hours. NHSE’s “vision” is that this 24-hour standard is met for all acute hospital patients within five years, the slides seen by HSJ reveal. The documents do not specify whether they would also be discharged within 24 hours.

Delayed discharges have been a problem for many years, but have caused particularly huge difficulties in the past 18 months, leading to emergency department overcrowding and ambulance handover delays. In August, one in seven patients in acute hospitals were medically ready to be discharged, NHSE figures suggest. 

According to the documents seen by HSJ, key objectives for the new service also include reducing long-term care costs “by decreasing demand and acuity”, and ”increasing people’s functional outcomes” by giving more people better rehab care on discharge. This appears to be a recognition that at present many people discharged receive inadequate rehab, which can exacerbate their condition, requiring more care.

Read full story (paywalled)

Source: HSJ, 12 October 2022


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