Hospital Dr News

Too many patients stuck on wrong wards

Hospitals are suffering from a shortage of beds in specialist wards with patients having to ‘board’ in other wards where less specialist care can be provided, data reveals.

The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh analysis suggests that hospitals, which are regularly under pressure during the winter months, are now routinely transferring patients around the hospital all year round to cope with the increasing number of medical patients.

This is inappropriate, places patients at risk and is difficult for the medical teams caring for them, it claims.

The college believes that there has been a significant and sustained increase in the number of seriously ill patients admitted to Scottish hospitals over a period of time during which the consultant workforce has remained static and that the Scottish government has reduced the number of beds in acute hospital units.

A survey of nearly 300 doctors in May shows 80% believe that boarding is now experienced all year round in Scottish hospitals (with 50% saying that boarding has taken place during the last couple of weeks).

Seventy one per cent believe boarding levels in Scotland are high and increasing.

Dr Neil Dewhurst, president of the RCPE, said: “Boarding, in effect, creates a vicious circle, delaying treatment and discharge for patients and adding considerably to the workload of the healthcare teams caring for them.

“What this survey shows is that boarding is becoming the norm in Scottish hospitals on a year round basis. We believe this is poor practice, places patients at risk and is unacceptable.”

The survey respondents concur with 99% believing that boarding has a negative effect on the quality of patient care; 95% say it has a negative effect on the length of patient stay; 68% a negative effect on death rates, and 68% a negative effect on re-admission rates to hospital.

Dr Jean Turner, executive director, Scotland Patients’ Association, said: “With an aging population and the increasing demands on in-patient beds due to unexpected outbreaks of infection, capacity issues need urgent attention.”

Nine out of ten doctors also say boarding has a negative effect on the quality of medical training.

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