Single point of access for referrals

Making sure patients receive the right care, at the right time, by the right professionals was at the heart of changes made by our west Kent community hospitals service.

In January last year (2021), the service set up a single point of access for referrals, believing this would be a better way to work. A bed management matron was appointed, to oversee admissions, bed allocation and staffing and to develop relationships with referrers.

Making this change resulted in improved waiting times, a better oversight of all community hospitals across west Kent, increased bed occupancy, improved quality of care for patients transferring into our services and a shorter average length of patient stay, due to the most appropriate patients being identified for our hospitals.

Leading the work were Adult Clinical Services Operational Manager Kerenza Boulton and Bed Management Matron Peter Burleigh. They used quality improvement (QI) tools and methodology and although it was not a QI project, they recorded what they did as a QI flash of brilliance, so learnings can be shared with others. They also followed the national Getting It Right First Time (GIRFT) way of working, which aims to improve the treatment and care of patients.

The work involved maximising use of our patient record system RIO, working with the local referral unit (LRU), developing relationships with matrons at community hospitals as well as referrers, dealing with transport of care (TOC) issues and more.

Since the post was established, average length of stay is now more consistent, relationships have been built with system partners and feedback has suggested this has resulted in an improved process.

The changes were made as the service recognised that acute settings needed to discharge patients quicker and more efficiently during the pandemic.

west Kent beds project

The west Kent bed management flash of brilliance