Why would anyone want to stay in hospital longer than they need to? – comment from Mike Wedgeworth

Mike Wedgeworth, Chairman of Healthwatch Lancashire, says:

Photo of Mike Wedgeworth

“Why would anyone want to stay in hospital longer than they need to?

Yet that’s how it is for many. An elderly relative of mine stayed on the ward for four weeks, although she was fit to return after two. The delay was simply because it took that long to arrange care for when she got home.

The Beechwood Centre at Royal Preston Hospital, which I visited recently as Chair of Healthwatch Lancashire, has found an answer to what is crudely called ‘bed blocking’, or more technically ‘delayed transfers of care’.

The Beechwood Centre welcomes patients direct from the ward, once they are well enough to be discharged, and helps them get ready for going home or, in some cases, to a residential or nursing home, at a fraction of the cost of their stay in a hospital bed. This also frees up beds for those who are the most unwell.

Although the Beechwood Centre used to be a hospital ward, the atmosphere and the décor are now completely different. I saw normal beds and comfortable sitting areas. I heard a lively music group with residents singing along. I sensed a great rapport with (non-uniformed) staff, and a nicely relaxed community of people who had become good friends – so much so that some didn’t want to leave. But when the time comes, they have all been helped to be confident that they can manage for themselves.

My thoughts as I drove home were; “this is how it should be” and “why doesn’t it happen at all hospitals?”. No doubt there are all manner of barriers to spreading the idea more widely, but if it saves money, and helps patients to manage at home much more quickly, why not?

Lancashire Teaching Hospitals, Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust and Midland Heart have worked together to show a big part of the answer to delayed transfers. Healthwatch Lancashire, whose role is to champion the users of health and social care, heartily welcomes their success in translating a good idea into a project that brings huge benefit to local people.”