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Bed blocking reduces across Ipswich, Colchester and West Suffolk hospitals but 2,000 days lost in month

PUBLISHED: 17:15 15 September 2017

Ipswich Hospital. Picture: PHIL MORLEY

Ipswich Hospital. Picture: PHIL MORLEY

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The three main hospitals in Suffolk and north Essex are winning their fight against so-called bed blocking, new figures reveal, but bosses recognise there’s still work to be done.

West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds. Picture: SIMON PARKERWest Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds. Picture: SIMON PARKER

The number of bed days lost across Ipswich, Colchester General and West Suffolk hospitals due to “delayed transfers of care” have dropped from 3,557 in July 2016, to 2,030 in the same month this year.

The issue occurs when a patient has no clinical need to be in hospital but cannot move on due to hurdles in the care system, such as no space in a residential home.

The number of days patients were held-up at Ipswich decreased from 1,783 in July 2016 to 800 in July 2017. At Colchester, it was sliced from 1,143 to 749 and at West Suffolk it went down from 631 to 481.

Neill Moloney, managing director at Ipswich Hospital, said making sure patients were not delayed in hospital was a shared responsibility for all health and social care organisations.

Colchester General Hospital. Picture: GREGG BROWNColchester General Hospital. Picture: GREGG BROWN

He added: “We’ve been working hard with teams across Suffolk to tackle this issue and are pleased to see the improvement. We know we still have work to do.”

A spokesman for Colchester General Hospital said the score in July was its lowest monthly figure for two years, and showed the trust was successfully working in smoother harmony with other care providers.

He added: “Many of the delays in getting people home are of our own making so we are constantly looking to iron out bottlenecks to improve patient flow.”

Andy Yacoub, chief executive of Healthwatch Suffolk, said delayed transfers in care were an “enduring concern” for the organisation.

He added: “This is a complicated issue, dependent on many factors, and current attempts to address it within the system have seen mixed results.

“Good partnership working between local government and the NHS is a must and obviously helps to avoid delayed discharges but is no guarantee of good performance.

“What is needed is substantial additional investment in community-based services alongside local reform, improvement and better connectivity between services and care professionals.”

West Suffolk Hospital has been approached for comment.

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