Teamwork from care services will relieve hospital pressure
Health care organisations in Bath and north east Somerset say they are working together to manage an increasing demand on services.
A report by analysts Dr Foster this week warned that hospitals were 'full to bursting' in England, creating a potentially dangerous environment for patients.
It said that a third of patients – mostly elderly people – should not be in an acute hospital at all, but could be looked after at home.
The job of ensuring the local NHS is on top of demand for services is shared between the B&NES Clinical Commissioning Group, the Royal United Hospital and Sirona Care and Health.
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They all say they want to provide more care in the community, and to see fewer people being admitted to hospital.
A joint statement said: "We have made good progress in providing more care in local communities and in people's homes where it is safe to do so.
"We know that patients – particularly those with long-term conditions such as diabetes, asthma and dementia – would rather be treated and spend time recovering at home.
"Providing more care this way will lead to fewer people being admitted to hospital in the first place and those that are admitted can be safely discharged more quickly.
"As well as benefiting patients, this also relieves pressure on our hospitals, helping to free up beds for more complex cases."
The statement said that patients were being offered more alternatives to visiting the RUH accident and emergency department, and there were a range of telephone helplines for GPs to speak directly with a senior hospital doctor to get advice about the management of a patient.
Hospitals should run at about 85 per cent capacity to give them room to cope with surges in demand, and figures show the NHS average hovering around that mark.
The report said the figure was skewed by quiet periods, and rose higher if these were stripped out.
Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham said: "This is a clear warning of an NHS showing increasing signs of distress and struggling to cope. Hospitals are being hit from all sides and struggling to function safely."
But Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: "The NHS is not overcrowded – on average, there are around 20,000 of its beds available.
"Of course this goes up and down, but the NHS has practice and experience in managing peaks in demand, particularly in the winter.
"The NHS is already doing more to give patients better treatment which also reduces demand on beds — more patients are being sent home on the same day than ever before and the average length of stay has steadily come down over the past decade."