New framework agreement eases squeeze on hospital beds ahead of winter

NHS Shared Business Services (NHS SBS), has released a new framework agreement, ‘Patient Discharge and Mental Health Step Down Beds Services‘ to support hospitals when discharging patients, and free up beds for those waiting to be admitted.

In June alone, the number of patients who no longer met the criteria to reside but remained in hospital was in excess of 12,000 daily, and analysis by The Health Foundation shows the NHS was forced to cut admissions by over half a million due to lack of beds.

NHS SBS’s procurement framework comes as NHS England (NHSE) sets out plans to speed up discharge of patients and improve care in preparation for what it expects to be a “difficult” winter for the service.

Plans include the creation of “Traffic control” hubs that will act as a single place for staff to co-ordinate the best and quickest discharge options for patients – either at home or into social community care.

Medically fit, ward confined

“Delays in discharge processes and limited capacity in social and community care, are making it challenging for NHS hospitals and mental health services to discharge patients appropriately,” says Elaine Alsop, Head of Category – Health, at NHS SBS.

“They remain inpatients, placing further strain on hospital resources, reducing the number of hospital beds available for new admissions, and at higher risk of hospital-acquired infections, loss of mobility, independence and re-admission.”

Streamlining the transition from hospital to care, adding extra capacity

NHS SBS’s Framework Agreement enables NHS hospitals and health and care providers use services like Virtual Ward support, Brokerage, and Discharge to Assess services – all of which can help them improve patient pathways from acute care to an appropriate care setting.

Uniquely, it also supports additional care in mental health settings with a Mental Health Step Down Care Beds Services offer – the provision of temporary care for those who need it until more permanent arrangements can be made.

Supported placements must provide safe, rapid assessments with an outcome of accommodation for patients aged 18 and over, currently experiencing mental ill-health, and being discharged from an acute ward for up to six months.

Elaine Alsop, added:

“Free to access, our ‘Patient Discharge and Mental Health Step Down Beds Services‘ framework agreement is designed to support the transition of patients from hospital, reducing instances of pressure on acute hospital beds, Social Services and re-admissions. In turn, this enables health and care providers free up capacity to deal with other patients. improve quality of care and health outcomes.

“It provides a convenient, compliant and cost-effective means for NHS health and care providers, hospital trusts and Integrated Care Systems to use 12 carefully vetted suppliers at pace, ready for winter and beyond.”