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New fund to cut delayed hospital discharges

£1.4m fund to encourage health/social care integration

Adrian O'Dowd

Thursday, 07 December 2017

NHS Digital is offering a fund of £1.4 million to NHS bodies and local authorities to encourage them to integrate their systems for a better approach to discharging patients from hospitals to social care.

Delayed discharges were estimated to cost the NHS £820 million in 2016 due to approximately 2.7 million older patients remaining in hospital when they no longer required acute treatment because ongoing social care was not organised or available.

Health think tank The King’s Fund has said previously that the impact on patients can be severe, with the likelihood of readmission and long-term care needs increasing.

NHS Digital said it believed that reducing delayed discharges through integration between NHS bodies and local authorities would also alleviate pressure on health and social care services and save money.

Therefore, NHS Digital, in conjunction with NHS England, is offering £1.4 million funding to partnerships that have the potential to speed up the process.

The cash is available to local authorities and their NHS partners bidding jointly to integrate their patient discharge from hospital into the local authority social care process.

Applications are open for local authorities with adult social care responsibilities to become early adopters and integrate their systems with at least one of their NHS partners, to create digital assessment, discharge and withdrawal (ADW) notices.

The current, non-digital systems in place to handle ADWs have been identified by local authorities and their NHS partners as a stumbling block to transfer of care.

Tom Denwood, director of data and integration at NHS Digital said: “When the transfer from hospital to social care is delayed, this causes distress for patients, their carers and healthcare staff.

“Local authorities and their NHS partners have a huge challenge ahead of them, especially during the winter months when the demand on public health services increases.

“We know that technology can help speed up the discharge process by integrating the health and social care IT systems, a process that will ultimately support patients back into their own home and regaining their independence.”

Ben Moody, head of health and social care at techU, the UK technology trade association, said: “This offers a good opportunity for our members, both to those who are delivering solutions to individual organisations or delivering integrated records, to improve citizen care.”

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