Positive results mark Frontrunner’s first birthday

25 January 2024

A year ago, the Department of Health and Social Care announced that the Northern Care Alliance was one of six organisations across the country to be involved in an initiative to speed-up discharges from hospital. 

In just 12 months, teams across the system have worked together to produce a set of results which are so encouraging they are being discussed with Government ministers, with a view to implementing the programmes nationally.  

From the creation of specialist dementia units on hospital wards, to teams building mock apartments in side rooms to evaluate whether older patients can cope at home, the Discharge Integration Frontrunner Programme has been innovative and fast-moving.  

Latest data from Frontrunner shows: 

  • The first 12 weeks of a test dementia unit at Fairfield General Hospital in Bury showed that there was a saving of 456 total bed days, as care improved for people living with dementia. 
  • Wards involved in the programme to return people over 65 home faster, saw a drop in length of stay from 8.83 days to 8.25 days, which is a reduction of 0.58 days, or a 6.5% decrease. 

Programme director, Lindsey Darley, said: “Everyone should be really proud of all the health and social care teams who have used their expertise to grasp this opportunity and design changes which are massively improving the way we care for people, as well as supporting under pressure systems.” 

She added: “It is important we now move into the second year of Frontrunner focused on completing and evaluating our work and identifying what elements we want to roll out across the NCA footprint, so people and our colleagues can benefit from the changes.” 

The NHS England-funded Frontrunner programme has been testing new, innovative ways of moving people quicker from hospital to home when they arrive in A&E needing urgent and emergency care. If possible, hospital is avoided altogether and people are supported at home. It is led by the Four Localities Partnership. 

There have been two elements to the programme in the NCA footprint – one part of the work has focused on people with dementia, while the second part has aimed to speed-up discharges for anyone aged 65 and over. This work has seen patients encouraged to stay active in hospital, so they are better prepared to cope at home, as well as plan discharges at an early stage and use the strengths-based training approach, where colleagues identify positives in their lives, such as friends and family.  

The Department of Health and Social Care hospital discharge and dementia policy teams have called the work “really motivating”, while an NHS England director said the work with over-65s was “mind-blowing”. 

Read more about the Frontrunner programme. 

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