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"Bed Blocking Because of Test Delays "

About: Broomfield Hospital

(as the patient),

There were patients during my recent stay at Broomfield Hospital who did not seem to need to be there. They were not 'ill' in the sense that they needed to be cared for, but they were waiting for tests.

The situation was that they could have gone home, but this would have meant them becoming outpatients, and they would have had to have waited months to have their necessary tests and scans. If they stay, they get their tests much sooner, because they are in-patients.

This is clearly a very inefficient way of running things. People who need beds for surgical procedures must be being delayed because fit patients are occupying beds just so they can get their tests!

It reminds me of what happens with traffic congestion. When traffic levels are low, flow is smooth and swift. As congestion builds, drivers tend to stay in the outside lanes, because if they pull in to the left, they fear they will be unable to get back into the overtaking lane again. Therefore, everyone slows down, and the inside lane is empty!

This is like what is happening in hospitals. There is a backlog of tests. Inpatients have the overtaking lane, and outpatients have the inside lane. Once a patient is in hospital, doctors are reluctant to discharge functionally fit patients because they would have to go back on the outpatient queue.

Surely we can develop a system where discharged in-patients retain their status in the queue without having to stay in hospital?

This way, no-one is inconvenienced. Outpatients do not suffer because they would have to wait anyway. In-patients get their tests at the same time as before but can go home. Beds are freed up for more urgent cases, or left empty to reduce pressure on staff and reduce costs.

Every one's a winner!!

Of course, I recognise that some patients are not good at keeping appointments. All such discharged in-patients would need to be told that if they miss their appointment, they would return to the outpatient queue.

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