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NHS to improve training to reduce hospital stays

ActNow e-learning tool will improve teamwork for nursing and care teams

Mark Gould

Thursday, 07 November 2019

NHS England and Health Education England have today launched ActNow, a new e-learning tool to help health and care service staff reduce delays in hospital discharge.

NHS England says that nearly 350,000 patients currently spend over three weeks in acute hospitals each year. Many of those are older people who are often frail, and while a short period of treatment in hospital is sometimes necessary, staying too long can leave them vulnerable to infections or deconditioning.


Hilary Garratt, deputy chief nursing officer for England said: “This new ActNow resource will help nursing and care teams in the vital role they play throughout a patient’s journey, and are ideal to include as part of team training or for professional development plans for nurses at every level, including our non-registered colleagues.”

Research suggests that more than one in three 70-year-olds experience muscle ageing during a prolonged stay in hospital, rising to two thirds of those aged over 90, which can leave some permanently less mobile or able to perform tasks they could before.

Ms Garratt said: “We want to ensure that all patients benefit from the shortest possible stay on a ward, getting home as soon as they are fit to leave with the support they need.

“Not only is that better for them, reducing the risk of infection or loss of mobility for older people in particular, but it also means that more beds are available for others who need care too, easing pressure on A&E and other parts of the system.”

Other action to help tens of thousands more people avoid lengthy spells in hospital is already being introduced as part of the NHS Long Term Plan. NHS doctors, nurses and other staff are being encouraged to ask themselves –  ‘Why not home? Why not today?’ – when planning care for patients recovering from an operation or illness, as part of a campaign called ‘Where Best Next?‘ which aims to see around 140,000 people every year spared a hospital stay of three weeks or more.

NHS England says ActNow along with other new resources will help staff to take prompt practical actions and use every opportunity to ensure patients are cared for in the best place for them. It will cover the use of new technology, effective early discharge planning and caring for people at home. Another added benefit for staff is professional development as completing the online course can be used as evidence of continued professional development and ongoing learning.

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