Last week NHS Improvement gave trusts their winter orders and published a much anticipated review of winter 2017-18. The review forms the basis of the new winter plans which seek to mitigate flu outbreaks and improve patient flow.
Targetting “near universal” staff vaccinations
All frontline NHS staff are expected to receive vaccinations in a bid to protect patients. Last winter the combination of extreme weather, high levels of respiratory and gastrointestinal illnesses and the worst flu outbreak since 2010-11 placed the health service under considerable strain. NHSI said a third of the increase in emergency admissions was flu related, moreover the virus also meant staff members took sick leave.
NHSI follows in the footsteps of NHS England who wrote to the royal colleges over the summer asking them to provide an action plan to increase the uptake of flu vaccines among staff.
Both NHSE and NHSI have outlined that staff who refuse vaccination should be asked to explain their reasons and advised that in departments where patients are most at risk it might be appropriate to redeploy staff who are not vaccinated.
Patient flow key to reducing delays in all departments
National director of urgent and emergency care at NHSE and NHSI Pauline Philip has written to NHS leaders outlining the challenges of last winter and reiterating the need for winter plans to commit to 90% performance against the four-hour operational target and maintaining the number of patients on elective waiting lists.
Eliminating corridor care, better triaging of patients away from emergency departments and reducing patients’ length of stay were the key aims outlined. The report recognised the importance of and support provided by technical and digital capability:
“As the demographics of patients and the public change, we must plan for changes in demand, particularly from frail and elderly patients for whom a hospital admission and delayed transfers can lead to a longer length of stay and reduce the quality of outcomes. We must continue to build the capacity and capability of whole systems to deliver the best possible urgent and emergency care. Our technology and data strategy is a crucial part of the integration agenda. We are working with NHS Digital to support digital deployment.”
Preparing for winter? There’s still time to deploy our digital patient flow and see the benefits this winter. Contact us to arrange a demo.