It has been widely reported over the last few years that the NHS is under severe amounts of strain, especially during the winter months. The same problems seem to appear each year, with bed-blocking and long waiting times being the key components. People are staying in hospital much longer, even if they have been medically cleared, which leads to a lack of beds for incoming patients.
An ageing population means that the number of people being taken to hospital, via A&E or for organised operations, is on the rise. A lack of beds and long waiting times is putting their well-being at risk.
In today’s post we’ll outline the current issues faced by NHS hospitals across the country, before offering a life-saving solution: The Personal Alarm Service.
Bed-blocking is caused by medically cleared patients, commonly older and disabled patients, being unable to leave hospital as they don’t have any organised care in place. This is down to the costs of social care and a lack of carers on-hand to help.
This then leads to overcrowded A&E departments, which ends with patients being left in hallways, waiting rooms and even ambulances outside the hospital.
Bed-blocking not only puts patients at risk, but it also costs the NHS valuable money that could be spent elsewhere to improve medicine and equipment. Figures from Scotland last year revealed that:
- Bed-blocking cost the Scottish NHS more than £100 million over the course of 2017.
- 511,972 bed days were lost to “delayed discharge” in hospital across Scotland between September 2016 and August 2017.
- NHS Scotland estimate that it costs £214 per day to keep a patient in hospital who is medically cleared to return home.
A knock-on effect of patients, particularly older people, being unable to leave hospital is that waiting times for incoming patients increases.
Statistics revealed earlier this year revealed that waiting times in emergency departments had hit their worst levels in history. The statistics found in the report include:
- Only 77.1% of patients were seen by “Type 1” A&E departments* within the four-hour target in January 2018.
- 1043 patients had to wait more than 12 hours on trolleys before being found a bed, exceeding the old record of 989 patients in January 2017.
- In December 2017, 85.1% of patients waited longer that four hours to be seen in A&E departments.
In some hospitals across the country, the lack of room inside can be seen from outside as ambulances are left queuing outside A&E. Photographs were taken towards the end of last year of ambulances waiting outside the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.
The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust were fined due to the number of ambulances left queuing outside the hospital. In January 2017 alone, hospital bosses were forced to pay fines worth £105,800. In April this year, the hospital was fined £35,400 after 122 patients waited at least half an hour to be transferred to hospital.
* Type 1 departments are “traditional” A&Es, for patients in cardiac arrest or after major trauma, and have a 24-hour service led by a consultant with full resuscitation facilities for acutely ill patients.
Relieving the Strain on Hospitals
As we’ve already discussed, one of the main causes of bed-blocking is older people being unable to leave hospital due to a lack of organised care and support.
This is where our Personal Alarm service can help. Our system allows older, frail and disabled people to continue living comfortably at home, rather than needing to find the funds for social care.
The Personal Alarm provides 24-hour support with very little intrusion. You’ll receive a base unit box and a little pendant which is worn around the wrist or neck. Each alarm user is monitored by a TSA Accredited Care Team, who work 365 days a year and will arrange help instantly.
The service works in the following way:
- If you feel unwell at home or suffer from a fall, simply press the red button on your pendant or alarm base unit.
- The Care Team will respond and speak with you over the base unit loudspeaker, assessing the situation and reassuring you before taking appropriate action.
- They will call for your emergency contacts (family, friends and neighbours), asking for them to visit you urgently. If you require medical attention, the emergency services will also be contacted.
- Our Care Team will have your medical history on-hand and will pass this information on to the paramedics – putting them in the best possible position to help once they arrive on the scene.
The pendant worn by our alarm users is waterproof so that it can be worn in the bath or shower, and its huge range allows for use outside in the garden. The peace of mind provided can help change the lives of older, frail and disabled people, as well as their loved ones.
Of course, this also reduces the amount of pressure that hospitals are currently facing. With an alarm system in place, older patients can return home as soon as they are medically cleared.
They have a “care system” in-place that doesn’t involve care homes or home care visits, and that is also affordable for them and their loved ones.
The sooner patients can leave hospital and return to their Personal Alarm system, the more incoming patients can be seen in A&E. In turn, there will be fewer complaints and negative reports in the media, and the amount of money being spent on fines will be reduced.
If you have a patient who you feel would benefit from having a Personal Alarm, then we do have a referral form that you can complete.
Such a system can help older people to leave hospital much quicker, therefore relieving extra pressure on NHS hospitals across the country. As soon as we receive your form we’ll get in contact with your patient with an alarm information pack.
Of course, friends and family members can also refer their older loved ones for a Personal Alarm.
The Personal Alarm is a product which qualifies for VAT Exemption, as it is a product which has been “designed or adapted for a disability.”
To qualify for VAT Exemption, there are criteria that you will need to meet. The potential alarm user must be suffering from a long-term illness, a terminal illness or a disability. Long-term physical or mental impairment that has a negative impact on your day-to-day life also meets the criteria set.
During the set-up process of your Personal Alarm, you will be asked to complete a VAT Relief form.
Personal Alarm Information
For more information about our life-saving personal alarm service, please get in touch with our friendly team on 0800 999 0400. Alternatively, complete our contact us form and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
Remember to use the discount code BLOG2018 when you order one of our personal alarm systems on a Monthly or Annual Plan to receive £10 off.