In June 2018, a national ambition was announced by the Secretary of State to lower bed occupancy in hospitals by reducing the number of long stays (21 days or more). A reduction target of 40% has been set for 2019/20, with the aim to reduce the risk of harm to patients from physical and mental deconditioning that could be caused by long hospital stays.
The reducing length of stay (RLoS) programme will ensure patients get the care they need in a location best suited to them, improve working environments for staff and reduce crowding in A&E.
A comprehensive plan has been set, establishing six key priorities that will help support clinicians and commissioners to achieve the RLoS ambition:
- A national staff facing campaign ‘Where best next?’, will launch in August 2019 setting out a number of practical actions frontline staff can take to help get patients to the best place for them;
- There will be an enhanced performance framework to monitor performance and to proactively escalate any risks or issues to delivery;
- All acute trusts have implemented a Discharge Patient Tracking List to allow teams to understand the delays for patients who remain in hospital for over 21 days;
- Clinical leads will be appointed and will be pivotal in launching the ten high impact changes for health economies in the autumn;
- The Emergency Care Intensive Support Team will provide advice and guidance, encouraging implementation of good practice;
- A research and evaluation initiative will be developed building an evidence base for intervention and reduction.