An NHS trust based in Brighton and Hove has reported a big drop in the level of bed blocking.
The reduction in bed days lost because of “delayed transfers of care” – widely termed bed blocking – was praised by the board of the Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust.
It was the first time that the trust board had met in public since it received its rating of “good” overall in a report from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) just over a fortnight ago.
Trust chairman Peter Horn thanked the executive team and staff for the sustained effort that had gone into ensuring hospital patients could be discharged promptly.
The proportion of days lost to bed blocking fell to 7.7 per cent last month compared with a year-to-date performance of 12.3 per cent – almost one in eight.
The figure is still above the current target of 7.5 per cent but stands at the lowest level since April 2015.
A report to the board noted: “A number of indicators … have performed less well than in the previous months which can be seen as an early warning for the impact the current winter pressures have on the system.
“Significant improvements have been achieved over the last quarter as a result of more systematic approach to managing delays at both system level and internally within the trust.
“This approach has (required) and continues to require substantial resource and attention but the improvement has been of significant benefit as systems have experienced growing operational pressures.”
The improvement was achieved despite challenges around recruiting and retaining staff.
Chief executive Siobhan Melia said that recruitment was a wider problem in the NHS but it would also be the subject of detailed work locally.
The trust is the main provider of NHS community health and care services across West Sussex, Brighton and Hove and the High Weald Lewes Havens area of East Sussex.
It provides a wide range of medical, nursing and therapeutic care, including the district or community nurses in the integrated primary care teams.
The trust also helps people to plan, manage and adapt to changes in their health, to prevent avoidable admissions to hospital and to minimise hospital stays.
Inpatient services are provided from 14 locations around Sussex while the trust has its headquarters at Brighton General Hospital where the board met today.