Too many beds filled unnecessarily at trust running Scunthorpe General Hospital
ALMOST one-third of hospital beds at the trust which runs Scunthorpe General Hospital are taken by patients who might not have needed them if their care was better managed, a new report has found.
The 2012 Dr Foster Hospital Guide shows Northern Lincolnshire and Goole Hospitals NHS foundation trust (NLAG) has an average bed occupancy level of about 76 per cent, but often breaches an 85 per cent bed occupancy limit set in place specifically to protect patients.
A total of 31 per cent of hospital beds at the trust are taken by patients who might not need them – including patients who could have been seen as day cases and patients with conditions that could have been treated in the community.
Patients who have been readmitted within a week of discharge also make up that figure.
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The report also revealed NLAG hospitals in Scunthorpe, Grimsby and Goole have a large number of long-stay elderly patients.
A spokeswoman for NLAG said: "The trust is continuing to work on reducing long lengths of stay in conjunction with our primary and social care colleagues and to maintain our low readmission rates."
The findings of the report – which looked at all trusts nationally – show the average occupancy in hospitals in England were running at 88 per cent in the mid-week period and averaged 90 per cent for 11 of the 12 months, excluding holiday periods such as Christmas.
But the report argued that if the NHS organised itself better, it could relieve the pressure on hospitals.
The Dr Foster report also highlights areas where the trust is performing well.
For example, NLAG's efficiency score is regarded as being good.
NLAG also has a lower than expected amount of re-admissions within a week and 28 days.
It also has a better than expected number of short stay admissions with a diagnosis.
Karen Jackson, chief executive at NLAG, said: "I must emphasise that patient safety is of the utmost importance to every trust employee and these statistics do not demonstrate the dedication from staff at all levels to the provision of safe, high quality care to patients in all of our hospitals.
"This is reflected in the positive performance at our hospitals that is highlighted in the Dr Foster guide, such as our lower than expected level of emergency readmissions, the higher than expected number of elective laparoscopic cholecystectomy day cases we have as compared with inpatient cases and our overall rating for efficiency."
Scunthorpe MP Nic Dakin said: "This report reminds us about what we already know, that there is significant pressure on the NHS locally.
"Scunthorpe General Hospital is working hard with other health professionals locally to make significant improvements."
Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, said: "These distressing figures reveal bed occupancy rates are at the very limit of what is safe or indeed desirable for patients."
Regional director for Yorkshire and the Humber Royal College of Nursing, Kevin Austerberry, said: "It is no coincidence that the NHS trusts identified in this region as being most under pressure are going through the process of cutting nursing staff posts or changing terms and conditions for staff as a way of saving money. This is happening just as local authorities and others involved in community care are also struggling to make savings, something that inevitably adds pressure on hospital services."
Graham Jaques, operations centre manager for Scunthorpe General Hospital, said: "We routinely monitor our bed occupancy rates on a daily basis, and indeed throughout the day, to make sure we have sufficient staffing levels across our wards and departments to cope with the demand on our services.
"We do experience peaks and troughs in activity throughout the year, not just during the winter months. Currently our occupancy rates at Scunthorpe are above 94 per cent for our core bed stock.
"This excludes maternity, neonatal intensive care, coronary care unit, trolleys and our day case ward."