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Reducing Length of Stay Reducing Length of Stay Reducing Length of Stay
Reducing Length of Stay

Reducing Length of Stay

NHS reforms have for the first time given real incentives for NHS hospitals to reduce the length of time their patients spend in hospital. Reducing hospital admissions and caring for people more appropriately outside of hospital is key. However, when hospital care is needed, the NHS needs to minimise that time, whilst not undermining patient safety or quality of care. Alongside changes to administrative systems and processes, a major factor in reducing length of stay is improving levels of care so that patients recover more quickly.

In the current challenging economic climate and likely reduced NHS growth, productivity and efficiency are paramount. Cash in the NHS will need to be spent more wisely. Considering the average cost for a patient to stay in an NHS surgical ward is up to £400 per day, the financial benefits of reducing length of stay are huge. Technology has a significant role to play in this.

In the results of a randomised controlled clinical trial published in the British Journal of Surgery, the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle has shown how the use of an inexpensive and proven technology suitable for use in all surgical specialities helped patients become fit for discharge three days sooner. This together with the hospital's own Enhanced Surgical Recovery Programme means that colorectal surgery patients at the Freeman Hospital recover twice as fast as NHS averages.

Reducing Length of Stay

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Key Findings of the Freeman Study
1. Patients using the new technology were fit
for discharge three days sooner (6 days versus 9 days).

2. Patients were actually discharged from
hospital two days sooner (7 days versus 9 days).


3. Patients suffered fewer post-operative
complications (2% of patients using CardioQ versus 15% of patients in the control group).

4. Patients tolerated food significantly earlier
(2 days versus 4 days after surgery).

Alan Horgan

Alan Horgan, lead author of the study and Consultant in Colorectal Surgery said:
"These results are remarkable. Everyone involved in surgery and NHS management should read this study".

Patricia Hewitt

In 2006 Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt said:
"If a shorter stay in hospital gives the patient as good, or better outcomes, and it costs less, let's do it".

Niall Dickson

In 2006, Niall Dickson, Chief Executive of the King's Fund said:
"Technology allows shorter lengths of inpatient stays".

Health Select Committee report into new medical technologies, 2005:
"New medical technologies can bring many benefits to patients, carers and clinicians. They can improve the quality of life of patients through more efficient and effective treatments and enable clinicians to treat more patients more effectively".

Reducing Length of Stay
Reducing Length of Stay
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