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ICBs should use war rooms to deliver £200m discharge fund

ICBs should use war rooms to deliver £200m discharge fund
By Jess Hacker
16 January 2023

ICBs should ‘strongly consider’ using their System Control Centres (SCCs) – dubbed ‘war rooms’ – to make use of the new £200m fund to speed up patient discharging.

The newly allocated funding – announced last week – will see NHS England free up £200m funding to help ICBs buy up beds in care homes and other settings, increasing capacity in hospital wards.

NHS England has now instructed ICBs to actively monitor patients throughout their stay in any additional capacity purchased through the fund to ensure the length of stay is appropriate.

In newly published guidance it strongly advised ICBs to make use of their SCCs and integrated discharge hubs to deliver on the scheme.

Boards will also be required to report progress to NHS England daily against a number of targets, which is set to include:

  • Number of step down beds purchased using this funding
  • Number of patients from each inpatient bed moved that day into a step down bed
  • Number of discharges from step down beds
  • Number of assessments outstanding for patients in step down beds
  • Number and type of wrap-around clinical interventions
  • Any patients readmitted to an inpatient setting.

In an accompanying letter sent to ICBs, trusts and GPs, NHS England said: ‘ICBs, including local authority colleagues, should ensure that patients are actively monitored throughout their stay in any additional capacity purchased through this scheme, to ensure that all appropriate interventions are delivered in a timely way and length of stay is optimised.

‘ICBs will be required to report on key indices of activity, with the majority of these collected daily due to the intensity of delivering a programme of this scale at such pace, and the need to ensure that every patient gets the best outcome possible.’

There are currently around 13,000 people occupying hospital beds in England who are fit to be discharged, with the new funding intended to majorly free up capacity.

The new money will fund stays of up to four weeks per patient until the end of March.

With the fund, ICBs are expected to reduce the number of patients who are fit to leave but remain in hospital beds, in turn helping to ease waiting times in emergency departments and handover delays.

It comes after NHS England suggested trusts that are struggling to manage pressures associated with industrial action contact their ICB to discuss mutual aid.

Trusts that find they have no choice but to release beds or free up clinical staff to alleviate pressure on urgent care should first discuss this with their provider collaborative, ICB and regional colleagues, it said.

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