The Cambridge University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has been awarded the accolade of ‘Trust of the Year’ by the Dr Foster Hospital Guide 2012, as it has succeeded in being the best when it comes to both quality of the clinical care provided and the efficiency of how it uses its available resources. As close runners-up, Frimley Park Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and Airedale NHS Foundation Trust have also been praised for their efficient and high quality care. It’s hardly surprising that hospitals rated highly by the excellent Dr Foster guide, are usually those with much lower numbers of claims for medical negligence compensation levelled against them.
So what else did the report find?
Most other trusts have found it harder to offer this level of care in 2012 because of high occupancy rates. Emergency patient admissions – especially concerning elderly people – are rising in number, and the amount these admissions are resulting in a lower level of service. In fact, many trusts are more than 90% occupied for 48 weeks of the year, putting a huge strain on resources.
Meanwhile, the report shows that mortality rates still vary widely, and weekend admissions have higher mortality rates compared to patients admitted in the week. There has, however, been a slight improvement with weekend staffing in the past year, and the guide found some lower weekend mortality rates as a result.
What is frustrating for hospital workers is that many of these admissions could have been avoided, freeing up beds for patients with more urgent needs. The report found that 29% of hospital bed days were used by patients who could have been seen in the day, or by people who had been readmitted within seven days due to complications with the original treatment. It was stated that the numbers could be reduced if hospitals and doctors worked harder at raising the level of primary and community care.
Treatments for older patients were discussed with regards to differing views in various hospitals; as patients get older, the quality of care offered tends to decline, and the variation in the treatments provided means that care is determined more by the resources available than what the patients actually want.
So what can trusts do to become more effective?
In order to make the care they offer more cost effective, the report encouraged hospitals to reduce patients’ length of stay, avoid emergency readmissions, and ensure resources are used effectively despite budget constraints. Trusts like Cambridge University have set the best example of high quality and efficient care in the past year, and other trusts will be hoping to match them in the future.
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