Winter Pressures – The Perfect Storm

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Stuart Rankin
Cayder's Managing Director
Everyone who's worked in healthcare or even watched the news has heard the term, that time of year when a combination of events combines to create an enormous demand on our healthcare system. It's predictable as its name suggests but is it avoidable?
As winter looms our ever increasing elderly population start to feel the effects of winter illnesses, trips and falls, the cold and let's face it the loneliness that long dark nights and living indoors brings. Meanwhile our youngsters start to catch more colds, passing it on to parents and family and reducing the number of people actually able to make it to work. A simplistic perspective perhaps but illustrative of the problem that just when demand reaches it's highest point in our healthcare system those working in it are most likely to be off sick too.

Our GP's reach and exceed capacity, our community teams are stretched, ED's fill up and our acute hospital beds are full and more, the whole eco-system is full but still demand keeps coming. The relentless drive to change access routes to health and try to push people into self-help have left most people confused as to where to go for help, GP appointment? Not for a week lets go to A&E we'll be seen far quicker. And so it goes on, this year was probably one of the worst with a number of Trusts declaring major incidents as a way of staying safe.

So what to do about such a predictable problem, open more beds? Employ more agency staff? Or how about trying to intervene in the cycle and break the loop?

This year some of our customers have taken some amazing steps to change this cycle, it's early days but the results are already starting to appear. With rapid intervention teams in community settings more patients are being cared for at home rather than becoming an emergency admission.

Multi-agency discharge planning is a reality that starts on admission and is accessible to all those involved whenever and wherever they are. Planning that spans acute and community settings is enabling seamless patient discharging and reducing bed blocking, whilst administration is being reduced for all carers allowing them the time to focus on patients.

Technology enablement is part of the process but the key is energised healthcare professionals working together to improve the flow of patients.

We're proud our technology is a part of these exciting developments, Building Better Healthcare published a feature on Hull & East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust and how technology has enabled them to better tackle winter pressures.