Swansea doctor's plea as number of patients waiting to be discharged could fill Singleton Hospital
Doctors are pleading for help from families as a whole hospital worth of patients are ready to be discharged, but can't - blocking new patients from being admitted.
One Welsh health board says there are nearly 280 patients in its hospitals that are currently medically well enough to leave - but for a number of reasons they can’t go.
That’s the equivalent of 10 wards – or a hospital the size of Singleton – currently unavailable to waiting sick patients.
The delay in medically well patients leaving hospital is often is because they are waiting for care packages or re-ablement support to be arranged, meaning they stay in hospital days or weeks longer than clinically necessary.
And it means beds cannot be freed up and patients may not have the best chance to recover, Swansea Bay University Health Board says.
Dr Rhodri Edwards, Swansea Bay UHB Clinical Chair for Medicine, said: "We are asking families to get together and work out if they are in a position to help their relative to go home earlier.
"It would be really helpful if they could find ways to provide some temporary support for a short period, just while the care or re-ablement packages are being organised.
"This will not only be a great help to the NHS by helping us free up more beds for sick patients who are waiting for them, but it will substantially benefit their relative.
"Hospital really isn’t the best place for someone who no longer needs acute care.
"There is a real risk to patients staying on in an acute hospital bed that they will catch an infection from sick patients. Or they can become deconditioned - begin to lose strength and ability – by not being up and about enough.
"Prolonged hospital stays often lead to loss of muscle mass and other side effects like constipation and falls, so the sooner a patient is home the better."
Like health boards and NHS trusts across the UK, Swansea Bay UHB is under extreme pressure, with high numbers of very poorly patients and says the public can assist the NHS by using health services thoughtfully.
Advice from Swansea Bay health board
Avoid going to the Emergency Department unless you have a serious illness or injury.
Consider alternative ways to get help. For minor injuries, please try the Minor Injury Unit (MIU) at Neath Port Talbot Hospital.
Try the NHS Wales 111 online symptom-checker for advice.
Your local pharmacy can also offer FREE over-the-counter treatments for a widerange of common ailments, once you register with them. They can also offer alimited number of prescription medicines without you needing to go to your GP.
Some Swansea Bay pharmacies also offer a sore throat test and treat service.
If you need mental health support, you can ring 111 and choose Option 2 to getthrough to a team of mental health practitioners.