The key to tackling crowded hospitals and emergency departments is to reduce length of stay. I don't mean average length of stay. I mean the length of stay of every patient. And I'm not thinking about length of stay in days. Length of stay should be thought about in terms of minutes, hours and days. Shave off 2 hours stay on the day of discharge, and you help clear the emergency department of a waiting patient earlier in the day. Many of ECIP's tools help reduce length of stay when implemented properly and at scale. The SAFER patient flow bundle tackles many of the factors that cause delays during inpatient episodes and helps reduce the length of stay of patients. Red2Green is a fabulous tool that can be used on daily ward and board rounds to galvanise teams to make sure that every day a patient is in hospital is value adding. Discharge to Assess potentially slashes the stays of frail older people who might otherwise decompensate in hospital.
ECIP has found that up to 25% of non-elective patients in hospital beds could be discharged immediately. They are waiting unnecessarily, wasting hours and contributing to crowding. A further 25% are in hospital because of delays that are entirely within the gift of acute trusts. Only a minority are delayed due to social care - a lot more are delayed due to glacial NHS processes.
So think length of stay. Don't focus on external delays before you have tackled all the internal delays that are so prevalent in hospitals. Believe that you can make a difference. If you don't, you won't.