Good patient flow across health and social care systems is crucial for the NHS to run an effective and sustainable service. If patient flow is poor hospitals become congested, clinical outcomes are poorer, financial performance deteriorates and staff will be overstretched.
Delayed transfers of care (DToC) clog system flow. Between August 2015 and August 2017, DToC rose by 24% in both non-acute settings and acute settings. As non-acute DToC currently make up about one-third of all delays, good flow to and from community providers is essential to achieving the target of reducing DToC beds to no more than 3.5% of occupied beds and delivering the extra beds we need ahead of winter. Providers of community health services need both to take action in their own organisations and to work with their local systems to improve flow along the entire patient pathway.
This guidance sets out good practice for providers of community health services, and our expectations of them over the next six months. We recognise that implementing these measures will not resolve all the problems around flow and that patient flow issues are broader than DToC, but are also clear that progress can be made in the short-term.
While we recognise that providers of physical and mental health services face distinct challenges, we have observed similar successful approaches across these sectors, and this good practice guidance is directed at all providers of community health services. This guidance also applies equally to inpatient services and those delivered in the community.
You can find the full guidance here