With more care now being provided out-of-hospital by Integrated Care Communities (ICCs), the North Cumbria Health & Care System is continuing with plans to provide care in the best possible setting, avoiding unnecessary stays in hospital which can have a negative impact on some patients, particularly older people.
Eight ICCs have now been established and ‘hubs’ are in place to coordinate care for people living in the community to either prevent some people from being admitted to hospital in the first place or allowing them to go home earlier by providing what they need to remain independent at home.
Work is now underway to further develop the ICCs beyond integrating health and extending this to social care, primary care, the voluntary sector and everyone in the community working as one team to support the health and wellbeing of local people.
As part of this plan, the number of inpatient beds at the Cumberland Infirmary (CIC) in Carlisle will reduce by 16 from 1 October 2018. The Aspen ward area will instead be utilised as the surgical pre-admission area which is located next to the theatre suite at CIC. This will aim to improve patient experience as the current pre-admission unit is located on the ground floor meaning patients have to walk through the main atrium to reach the operating theatres.
In addition, more elective or planned surgical procedures will be offered at West Cumberland Hospital (WCH) in Whitehaven where, if required to stay overnight, patients will have a single ensuite room. The redevelopment of WCH in October 2015 included the creation of a modern and spacious theatre suite.
There will be no staffing losses as part of this move with North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust (NCUH) continuing to proactively recruit more nursing staff in order to strengthen the workforce.
A further improvement will be the opening of a ‘Therapy’ ward at CIC which will focus on providing dedicated rehabilitation to patients before their discharge from hospital. The team on the ward made up of physiotherapy and occupational therapy staff will work with patients to retain their independence and focus on the most appropriate place for the patient to go to upon discharge.
Stephen Eames, chief executive at NCUH and lead for the North Cumbria Health & Care System, said: “We know that once a patient has had a procedure or has been treated for an acute illness, hospital is no longer the best place for them to be and we have been working together as a system for some time now to address this in north Cumbria.
“With the establishment of the eight ICCs, we feel now is the time to reduce the number of beds we have at the Cumberland Infirmary by a small number and to use the area to improve patient experience when coming in for an surgical procedure by relocating the surgical pre-admission unit. We very much value our surgical nursing team’s expertise and experience therefore we will be pleased to strengthen our nursing team on the main surgical wards.
“The introduction of a therapy ward will aim to improve patient flow through our hospitals and ensure patients who do need a hospital stay are provided with the right levels of rehabilitation and support before they leave hospital.
“I have always been clear that I see West Cumberland Hospital (WCH) as a centre of excellence for planned surgical procedures and I am pleased that this is continuing to progress. The facilities at WCH are fantastic and we want people from across north Cumbria to make use of them where they will receive excellent care in a modern environment with single rooms.
“We are already seeing the advantages of us working together as a health & care system and we will continue to work to improve the way we deliver care to our local communities.”