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Dorset hospitals appeal to patients' relatives to help free up beds

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HOSPITALS in Dorset are appealing to patients' relatives to help free up beds as the healthcare service enters a particularly "difficult winter".

Patients who are "medically ready" to leave hospital may need additional help returning home where the NHS is asking friends and family to step in.

Dr Tristan Richardson, medical director for medicine at University Hospitals Dorset NHS Foundation Trust, which manages Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole hospitals, said ensuring patients were not staying longer than they needed to would avoid a "knock-on effect across our hospitals".

The Royal Bournemouth Hospital
The Royal Bournemouth Hospital

He said: "The person who can't leave means someone can't get out of the admission area, so someone else can't get out of the emergency department into admissions, which means an ambulance cannot offload and therefore can't be attending an emergency."

Prof. Alastair Hutchison, chief medical officer at Dorset County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We know that for older people who have recovered to the point of not needing further medical care in hospital, a prolonged delay in discharge can result in what’s called ‘deconditioning’, where immobility and inactivity causes muscle weakness, walking difficulty and increased risk of falls and fractures.

“Clearly not all friends and relatives will be in a position to support their loved ones in this way, but where they can do, it would make a real difference to patients' recovery and help the hospital to manage other emergencies as well.”

Cllr Karen Rampton, BCP Council cabinet member for people and homes, said: “At a time when services are particularly stretched and with a difficult winter ahead of us, BCP Council fully supports the NHS appeal for friends and families to help people leave hospital.

“Alongside the care services that we provide, it’s vitally important that patients receive extra support from those closest to them to assist with recovery and a return to good health and independence.”

For more information, visit www.mylifemycare.com/article/6307/Leaving-hospital or dorsethealthcare.nhs.uk

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