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Health trusts urge patients to leave hospitals as soon as they are able

Health trusts across Northern Ireland have asked for the full co-operation of patients amid warnings of pressure on the health service due to Covid.

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On admission to hospital, patients are now being given letters setting out the approach to discharge planning (PA)

On admission to hospital, patients are now being given letters setting out the approach to discharge planning (PA)

On admission to hospital, patients are now being given letters setting out the approach to discharge planning (PA)

Patients have been reminded of the importance of leaving acute hospitals as soon as they are deemed fit for discharge, with health services under extreme pressure from Covid-19.

Health trusts across Northern Ireland have asked for the full co-operation of patients, their families and carers on the matter.

The Northern Health and Social Care Trust warned that the situation in hospitals could worsen over the next month to six weeks.

Wendy Magowan, director of operations at the Northern Trust, said: “We are communicating directly with patients on the importance of timely discharge – both for their own wellbeing and to ensure that as many beds as possible are available to those who need to be in hospital.”

The stark reality is we need acute hospital beds for acutely ill peopleWendy Magowan, Northern Health and Social Care Trust

On admission to hospital, patients are now being given letters setting out the approach to discharge planning.

The letter acknowledges that any admission to hospital is stressful for both patients and their families or carers.

However, it also points out that an unnecessary or prolonged hospital stay can be detrimental as patients may develop infections which can have a significant impact on long-term recovery.

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Ms Magowan said: “Discharge home will always be the first option, but many patients will require additional care and support through other services or an alternative placement.

“In the event that patients require further rehabilitation, consideration will be given as to the most suitable option and that may include transfer to another hospital or step-down bed.”

She added: “The pressures on domiciliary care have been well rehearsed. These are being exacerbated by the spread of the Omicron variant, with staff absenteeism likely to increase.

“This will result in increased delays in care packages becoming available.

“In the event that a patient requires a new or increased package of care, and it is not immediately available, family members will be required to provide support upon discharge until the package of care becomes available.

“Alternatively, patients could move to a care home/step-down bed, if there is a place available, to provide them with safe and effective care whilst they await the provision of the package of care. Care home fees will be waived during this period.

“The stark reality is we need acute hospital beds for acutely ill people.”

Patients requiring a place in a nursing or residential care home, but where a home of their choice is not immediately available, will be transferred to an alternative home until a bed becomes available in their preferred care home.


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