Looking after our NHS this winter

Emergency sign

With the end of the year fast approaching, Hywel Dda University Health Board is urging the public to help us look after our precious NHS resources so that we can care for patients in the most appropriate way for their need.

At a meeting yesterday (Thursday 28 November 2019) the health board approved its 2019-20 winter plan, which includes operational measures and community 

interventions aimed at reducing pressure on our emergency and scheduled care systems.

Together with our partners in local authorities, the third sector and Welsh Ambulance Service NHS Trust, our focus is on managing the capacity we have in our hospitals and busy emergency departments while also reducing the amount of time patients need to spend in a hospital bed; this means providing as much non-emergency and follow up care outside of the hospital environment as possible.

Among the measures are:

  • Daily frailty / hot clinics to support frailty assessment teams at the front door
  • Additional ‘home support team’ in Pembrokeshire - a therapist-based service following patients through the hospital system and back into the community
  • An integrated nursing approach between our Out Of Hours service and 24/7 Acute Response Teams
  • Pharmacy at the ‘front door’ of our Emergency Departments & extended weekend opening
  • Additional A&E staff to cover peaks in demand and support from the British Red Cross ‘Home from Hospital’ scheme
  • ED streaming / redirection at Withybush General Hospital
  • Improved vaccination for flu – including partnership working with community midwives to target pregnant women
  • Additional community nursing & Acute Response Team resource
  • Delivery of respite & palliative care services in the community by the Third Sector – right care for patient in community
  • Proactive messaging for respiratory patients

 

Andrew Carruthers, Director of Operations at Hywel Dda, said: “In the NHS we typically view the winter period as beginning in around October to November, and coming to an end the following spring, which is a long time for our emergency and hospital services to have to cope with sustained pressure.

“The way that we try to manage this is by adopting a whole-system approach, which brings together our acute hospitals, primary care and community services, ambulance service, local authorities and the third sector. We need everyone to play their part and help – and our public and patients are absolutely key to this.”

To ensure that we can treat patients who have a genuine medical emergency, and to avoid ambulances queuing up outside our A&Es or being diverted to other hospitals, the health board is urging people to choose their healthcare services very carefully. This will give you advice and support on choosing the right healthcare service for your need, so that we are only seeing people with urgent or emergency care needs in A&E.

Also, if you have a friend, family member or loved one who is medically well enough to be discharged from hospital, please help us by coming to pick them up promptly. This will allow us to free up beds faster for acutely unwell patients and keep the patient flow steady through our hospitals. It is also important that people don’t choose to remain in hospital if they are waiting to be discharged to their preferred care home; hospital is for acutely ill people and a safe and prompt discharge to the most appropriate place is essential and will achieve the best outcome for that person and their family.

Members of the public and healthcare staff are also being urged to protect themselves, their families and patients by having the flu jab. Flu can cause serious illness and can even be life threatening to people in at-risk groups so it’s essential that the public do all they can to protect themselves and others.

Andrew added: “We are facing a winter of unprecedented pressures and it’s fair to say that we are already experiencing some really difficult periods trying to deliver urgent and emergency care services.

“We have clear expectations about seeing and treating patients the way we want to, but we can’t do it alone and we urgently need the public to help us.

“The NHS is here for all of us and we are extremely lucky to have it, but if we want it to look after us we’ve got to make sure we look after it too.”