Bridging the gap at Southend
08 November 2018
It has been widely acknowledged that the winter of 2017/18 saw the NHS in England experience a huge surge in demand.
Southend, like hospitals across the country, has put plans in
place to help manage the rise in demand experienced during this
time of year to ensure patient safety and high quality of care is
maintained. Plans are in place to improve bed capacity and patient
flow including the safe discharge of patients.
Central to discharge and patient flow at Southend is this year's
Hospital Heroes Working Together award winners, the Bridge the Gap
team (BTG). Run by the Discharge Team and consisting of four
internally trained health care assistants (HCAs), this small
team plays a crucial role in acting as a bridging service
between the hospital and social care, ensuring patients can be
safely discharged into the community.
Kellie-Jo Hill, Head of discharge services, said: "If a care
agency hasn't got the capacity to start a care package on a
particular day, BTG can take that patient home and will provide up
to four calls a day until social services have sourced an agency
and can take over the care. It's a really short term service to
improve flow across the hospital, to get the patient where they
should be, in the right place at the right time."
BTG started off as a small pilot scheme three years ago and it
soon became apparent how successful it was with a reduction in the
delay of transfer of care. From there BTG became a permanent and
central component of the Discharge Team.
BTG liaise daily with social care teams at both Essex County
Council and Southend Borough Council, to discharge between 5-6
patients per day. The four HCAs travel all over Essex - from Canvey
to Great Wakering - to support patients until the council put their
own care plans in place.
Charmaine Duce, Discharge Manager, said: "It's about improving
the patient journey and them being in the right place. Some
families worry that their loved one will be sent home ill prepared
with no food in the cupboards but BTG will take care of this. We
will get the shopping, we will put the heating and lights on, feed
the pets - whatever is needed."
The Discharge Team is also in the process of building a business
case to expand the Bridge the Gap team and double daily
discharges which will make a huge difference throughout the
upcoming winter holiday period.
The Southend team is basing their business case on Basildon
Hospital's model which is double the capacity of Southend. These
plans will be submitted to NHS England and would align the services
as Basildon, Southend and Broomfield move forward with plans for
merger in April 2019.
Clare Burns, Director of Operations, Planned & Scheduled
Care, said: "It's no exaggeration to say that the Bridge the
Gap team kept the hospital safe throughout winter by doubling
the amount of patients they safely discharged home or into the
"This resulted in more beds being available for additional
unwell patients to be admitted."
At the close of September, the Bridge the Gap team deservedly
won the Working Together category at this year's Hospital
Heroes Awards. The team were delighted with their win and hope it
helps to raise their profile across the Trust as they look to
expand their services and play a crucial role this winter and
Kellie-Jo added: "Winning the Working Together award was a very
proud moment for our team as it was the culmination of
extremely hard work and successful team working both internally and
with the local councils. We want to raise our profile and this will
hopefully help us do that as we look to expand and realign our
(l-r) Cheryl Robinson (HCA), Sue Childs (HCA), Victoria Spivey
(HCA), Mandy Witney (HCA), Kellie-Jo Hill and Charmaine Duce