North Staffordshire's Hospital at Home initiative aims to avoid beds crisis

In an attempt to avoid an NHS beds crisis this winter, the University Hospital of North Staffordshire has implemented an initiative involving patients being treated in their own homes.

NHS funding will go towards paying a private firm to supply care for patients in their own homes, in many cases prior to their official discharge from the hospital.

The Hospital at Home initiative comes as a result of predictions that up to 100 additional beds would be required over the winter months at the hospital’s Hartshill complex. It could see 40 beds being used in people’s own homes at any point over the winter.

Mark Hackett, the hospital’s new chief executive, has already successfully pioneered the scheme at his previous job in Southampton.

“We are employing a community provider, which will work with our hospital doctors so patients stay under their care, but have nursing teams looking after them in their own homes,” he told the Stoke Sentinel.

“This will allow us to treat people safely within their own homes but they will still have the back-up of the hospital,” Mr Hackett went on to say.

Hospital at Home nurses will spend time at the patients’ homes each day, operating under the guidance of the individual patient’s hospital consultant. If a patient’s health deteriorates, they would be immediately moved back onto the hospital ward, and all patients will be able to use an emergency 24-hour telephone number to access nurses on call. Once the patient has recovered, they will be officially discharged by hospital doctors using information given to them by the private nurses.

The Hospital at Home scheme makes up a section of the hospital’s £4.7 million winter emergency strategy, which is this year aiming to reduce the issue of bed-blocking as well as shortening accident unit queues.

Figures have shown the scheme to be a success in the past, with more than 2,500 patients treated in their own homes across Southampton in winter 2011 and winter 2012, with only 45 requiring re-admittance to hospital.