#HelpingFlo - help us keep hospital beds free for those who really need them
27 September 2018

Health and social care partners in eastern Cheshire are urging local people to help keep hospital beds free for those who really need them this winter.

Recent winters have proved challenging for health and social care services across the country, with high numbers of patients, many of them elderly and with increasingly complex needs, requiring admission to hospital.

Local health and social care staff across hospital and community settings have worked very hard to safely manage this but it has led to patients waiting longer than they should in Accident and Emergency and additional temporary beds being set up within Macclesfield Hospital.  

However, there are also a number of ways in which members of the public can help free up hospital beds for those who really need them. This new video featuring local NHS and social care staff explains how people can do this via five top tips and a fictitious patient called Flo.

Flo is an elderly patient currently waiting in A&E because no beds are available in the wider hospital, despite a number of patients in those beds being ready for discharge. Flo appears at key points in the video which highlight the five top tips for freeing up hospital beds.

The five top tips are:

  • Don’t assume you/ your relative will be admitted even if your GP refers you for urgent hospital assessment. Sometimes GPs refer people directly to hospital for assessment and they will often be taken in an emergency ambulance. However they may well be discharged after appropriate investigation, so it’s vital they have relatives/carers ready to help get them back home in a timely manner.
  • Please prioritise collecting your relatives or friends as soon as they are ready to be discharged. Any delay in a patient being collected by a relative or carer once ready for discharge, even for just a few hours, can impact on the availability of beds for other people. Patients are usually ready for collection by 11am on their day of discharge.
  • Ensure you/your relative has the right footwear, clothes and essential belongings if they are admitted. This can help prevent falls and keep patients as active and mobile as safely possible, which may in turn shorten the length of their overall admission.
  • Please consider that ongoing care/assessment after leaving hospital may not be as close to home as you would like. If you turn down ongoing care because it is not as close to home as you would like, it could mean that no bed is available for a poorly patient in A&E who really needs it. And while you are waiting for an alternative to become available, you may also be missing out on important therapy to aid your rehabilitation.
  • Please make sure all practical arrangements are in place for your discharge. Please make us aware of any help you might need with issues like transport and help at home well in advance of your discharge so this does not delay your discharge.  

John Wilbraham, Chief Executive of East Cheshire NHS Trust, said: “As most people will be aware, in recent winters we have faced significant challenges keeping hospital beds available for everyone who needs them.

“We are continually looking at ways to address this, however what people might not realise is that there are many ways in which patients themselves and their relatives and carers can help keep beds free.

“I hope this short video shows how they can help.”

The initiative is also being promoted on social media using the hashtag #HelpingFlo

The video below aimed at highlighting how NHS and social care staff can help with patient flow has also been created as part of the project. 

Look out for further updates over the coming weeks and months.