We need expertise and not more beds

INCREASING the number of hospital beds is not the answer to mounting pressures on the health system in Worcester, according to one expert.

Simon Trickett, chief operating officer at South Worcestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), believes demand will always be predicated by availability and simply throwing money at extra beds will not solve anything.

“We could probably open another 500 beds and in a few weeks they would be full,” he said.

“Yes, we need to invest in acute capacity, but that does not necessarily mean beds.

“Beds are worth nothing at all without the right range of expertise to treat the people who are filling them.”

The debate, at the latest governing body meeting of South Worcestershire CCG, follows the recent publication of a new report into emergency care by national NHS medical director Sir Bruce Keogh.

Along with plans for a new two-tier system of A&Es, he is looking to implement a wider transformation of the “unsustainable” urgent care system, to enhance care in the community and keep people away from hospitals as much as possible.

And for South Worcestershire CCG, which has an NHS budget of more than £300 million to provide for the health needs of about 292,000 people, that means reducing the amount of time people spend in hospitals, as much as the sheer number of admissions.

“The expertise that needs to be in place must be at the front door, rather than at the back end of the system once patients have been kicking around the hospital system for a few weeks,” said Mr Trickett.

Dr Carl Ellson, chief clinical officer of South Worcestershire CCG, warned that hospitals can be “very dangerous places”, especially for frail elderly people.

“Evidence shows that bed capacity is not the answer because it leads to inappropriate admissions,” he said.

“Rather than investing in bed capacity we need to invest in the expertise to get people home as soon as possible.”


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