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Chief nurse's winter framework aims to ensure prompt discharge

Framework from NHS England and NHS Improvement offers STPs guidance on making the best use of care homes and available beds, and reducing reliance on medical and registered nursing staff

England’s chief nurse has launched a winter framework to help nurse leaders and their staff ensure that patients do not spend any longer than they need to in hospital.


Every member of staff can make a difference to the patient journey in hospital over winter, says England’s chief nurse Jane Cummings. Credit: Barney Newman

The framework from NHS England and NHS Improvement aims to support England’s 44 sustainability and transformation partnerships (STPs) and their provider organisations this winter.

STPs are geographic groups of NHS providers, clinical commissioning groups, local authorities and other health and care services that have come together to develop plans to reconfigure services, work in more integrated ways and save money.

Support for care homes

The winter framework advises on maximising the use of care homes, providing support to those that may be at risk of closure, and making the best use of available beds. It describes therapy-led units in which the focus is on reablement and rehabilitation, with a reduced reliance on medical and registered nursing staff.

Chief nursing officer for England Jane Cummings highlighted the importance of leadership in ensuring patient environments focus on safe, effective and prompt discharge and allow people to move around in their own clothes.

According to figures from NHS England, for those aged over 80 years, a week spent in bed can equate to ten years’ muscle ageing, a loss of 1.5kg of muscle mass and a 20% reduction in aerobic capacity. It can also mean a five-fold increase in the risk of requiring institutional care. 

‘Giving back time’

Professor Cummings said: ‘I ask all nurse leaders to look at how they can maximise patient time and support therapeutic environments.

‘While our time is important, our patients’ time is sacred – let's make giving back time, by enabling our patients to return to the place they call home, our challenge.

‘It's one where every member of our clinical teams and every member of staff can have an impact and make a difference.’


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