Urgent Care: Improving Patient Flow

Exploring patient flow trends within the hospital urgent care system.

Manchester Conference Centre – Thursday, 21st September 2017

The NHS continues to make headline news as it struggles to meet demands amidst the realisation that extra funding will not be forthcoming. Whilst the whole system is under pressure it is perhaps felt most profoundly in urgent care, more specifically accident and emergency departments of acute hospitals. However, the demand for urgent care arriving at a hospital’s front door and the patient journey from there on, creates and compounds difficulties in respect of maintaining a good flow throughout the hospital system right up to the discharge process.

As part of Open Forum Events’ health and social care portfolio, this year’s annual urgent care conference Urgent Care: Improving Patient Flow will focus on measures that can alleviate the congestion and successfully restore dynamic flow.

Open forum Event

The most recent Accident and Emergency Statistics publication shows that there has been a significant rise in the number of people attending A and E departments, despite constant efforts to reform the system and relieve some of the pressures by signposting to other areas of healthcare provision. The increase in footfall has had the knock-on effect of patients having to wait longer to be seen. This is the point at which good patient flow becomes compromised, as illustrated by a fivefold increase, over the last five years, in the number of patients waiting longer than 4 hours to be admitted as inpatients from the A and E Department.

Good flow requires space and in the case of a hospital this means beds. Over recent years bed occupancy has increased and coupled with an increase in length of stay as a possible consequence, the speed at which patients can be assessed, treated and discharged is delayed resulting in gridlock. Delayed transfer of care at the discharge stage further curtails bed capacity, as those medically fit to be discharged cannot leave the hospital due to a lack of an onward care package being in place or the absence of other necessary provision.

Some of the answers in overcoming the challenges in patient throughput lie outside the hospital environment. Reducing the attendances to A and E and expediting timely discharge can be greatly influenced with services offered by primary, community and social care providers.

The Urgent Care: Improving Patient Flow conference agenda has been developed to explore the current patient flow trends within the hospital urgent care system. Delegates will gain a greater understanding of how the problems occur from the start of the process, with the patient having attended the A & E department, through to the discharge process, returning back into the community and home. Our line-up of expert speakers will provide insight, opinion and stimulate debate as to how to relieve the burden on hospitals and reduce the pressures of compromised patient flow. We will showcase a number of initiatives and examples of best practice from throughout the health and social care system and there will be ample opportunity for interactive discussion and networking amongst fellow professionals and peers.

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Hospitals Just Can’t Cope

Most major daily newspapers today are running headlines regarding Britain’s Accident and Emergency units going into meltdown yesterday as medics struggled to cope with a huge surge in patients.

Waiting times grew to 12 hours in A&E departments as politicians warned of a crisis.

The Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt admitted there was a “huge amount of pressure” on hospitals in England.

And he added: “We are running just to keep still.”

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Mr Hunt spoke amid a huge surge in demand for A&E this winter, forcing nine hospitals to declare “major incidents” as they ran out of beds.

These normally only occur in cases such as a terror attack or a plane crash, and saw all but the most vital operations cancelled.

Croyden University Hospital, south London, yesterday became the latest to struggle after delays rocketed to half a day. It made a plea for resources as medics feared they would have to turn away more patients in urgent need.

Local Labour MP Steve Reed said: “A woman in her 80’s called my office to say she had waited 12 hours on a trolley bed in a corridor.

“The government has created an A&E crisis across Britain.”

Mr Reed spoke out as fellow Labour MPs said the NHS would not survive five years if the Tories win in the May General election.

Peter Carter, of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “Patients and hard-working staff are being let down by a system which is in crisis.”

Dr Cliff Mann, president of the College of Emergency Medicine said “all bets are off” about how the NHS would cope between January and March, the toughest time.

Hospitals were “full to bursting” and far too many patients who should have been discharged but could not because there would be no care for them in the community he added.

David Cameron accused unions of trying to “scaremonger” by claiming the NHS was “on the brink of disaster.”

He said: “I don’t think it’s remotely true or remotely responsible. The fact is the NHS is coping with a huge amount.”

The winter rush of patients  using A&E instead of waiting days for a GP appointment has put the system under unbearable strain.

“There are pledges of more money and plenty of rhetoric but no plans for reform to turn this situation and disgrace to our nation around.”