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The small bag that could make a big difference

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Published on 03 May 2018

Dr Yitka Graham (second from left) with NHS leaders and managers
Dr Yitka Graham (second from left) with NHS leaders and managers

This small red bag could prove a lifeline to thousands of the North East’s most vulnerable people.

 The Hospital Transfer Pathway, which has been dubbed the “Red Bag” initiative, aims to provide patients with problem-free transfers between care homes and hospitals across the North of England.

 Vital medication, medical documents and even personal belongings will be stored in the bag. This information then stays with patients, with the red bag alerting NHS staff that the patient is a care home resident, and provides quick and easy access to important patient information when they are in hospital.

 The aim is to help streamline services between care homes and hospitals to ensure efficient admissions and discharges.

 The Hospital Transfer Pathway Evaluation is a collaboration between CCGs, Local Authorities and Trusts across the North of England, with the research led by Dr Yitka Graham, Senior Lecturer in Health Services and NHS Engagement at the University of Sunderland.

 Dr Graham said: “This is a dynamic research collaboration which has real potential to make a difference across care homes, the ambulance services and the NHS. We are looking forward to working together to implement the findings into practice across the North of England to improve care of residents who need admitting to hospital.”

 Ann Fox, Executive Director of Nursing, Quality and Safety, Sunderland NHS Clinical Commissioning Group and Visiting Professor in the School of Nursing and Health Sciences, said: “The Red Bag evaluation is a further example of how Sunderland organisations and staff can come together as a collective group to carry out research to improve health and wellbeing together across a wide range of care settings.”

 The scheme means patients’ concerns over small issues, like a change of clothes or remembering their spectacles, can be put at ease at a time when they need medical care. It also means doctors and health workers have easy, quick access to the patients’ medical backgrounds.

 Ken Haggerty, Independent Care Sector Lead for NHS England, was among the health professionals attending the event. He said: “A lot of residents and patients in care homes may not be able to articulate themselves very well.

 “The Red Bag initiative means all their documentation is in one place and available when most needed.”

 The bag also clearly identifies a patient as being a care home resident and this means that it may be possible for the patient to be discharged sooner, because the care home has been involved in discussions with the hospital and has an understanding of the patient’s care needs, so they are able to support the resident when they are discharged.

 The Hospital Transfer Pathway aims to bring together hospitals, social care, clinical commissioning groups, GPs and paramedics in an effort to improve care for patients.

 Visiting Professor Melanie Johnson, Executive Director of Nursing and Patient Experience for City Hospitals Sunderland and South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust, said: “This is about working together so that people can get the same care wherever they are.”

 It is ultimately hoped that the scheme will mean more efficient handovers from care homes to ambulance crews; from paramedics to hospital admissions; and from hospital admissions to medical treatment.

Visiting Research Fellow Jeanette Scott, Director of Nursing, Quality and Safety, South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group said: “The collaboration and support between NHS England, the two CCGs and Trusts, will allow us to gain detailed insight into the patient pathway and share best practice to support staff and improve care.”


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