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GLASGOW PUTS HIGH-TECH @ THE HEART OF NHS WINTER PLANS

November 15, 2005 12:09 PM

NHS Greater Glasgow has used the latest in high-tech computer models to help the city's hospitals and health centres prepare for the winter.

The specially adapted software has been developed to deliver early warning systems and bed capacity data as part of an unprecedented winter pressure planning programme as forecasters warn we could be facing the coldest winters in recent years.

Glasgow's Primary Care Medical Director Dr Iain Wallace explained: "This year, we've been using specially-adapted software to help plan the best possible healthcare for Glaswegians this winter. Our computer programmes help us by taking the number of patients admitted last winter, factoring in things like availability of beds and also a long-range weather forecast, and then giving us a clearer of idea of what we might expect.

"We can then target all our resources at the areas where they're needed most, and in turn that should ensure streamlined and efficient care everywhere from hospitals to GP out of hours services."

The computer initiative is only part of a wider plan to prepare for the extra pressures that winter could bring this year.

Among the key measures are;
* Staffing increases in NHS GEMS (Glasgow's primary care out-of-hours service) centres over Christmas and New Year
* Introduction of new out-of-hours nurse-led minor illness service within NHS GEMS
* Identifying additional beds that could be temporarily made available in Glasgow's hospitals
* Streamlining ward rounds to identify patients suitable for weekend discharge
* Improved use of discharge lounges in city's hospitals including new facility at the Victoria Infirmary - allowing patients to leave wards while they wait for transport home and freeing up beds for new admissions
* Encouraging the uptake of flu vaccine for both frontline staff and elderly or vulnerable patients, to minimise the potential impact of the illness
* Working with partners in Social Work to prepare vulnerable or housebound patients in advance of the festive period
* Maximising the number of Scottish Ambulance Service staff available during peak discharge and transfer times

Extra investment and resources are to be targeted particularly at maintaining adequate levels of service over Christmas and New Year.

The measures also extend beyond preparing for higher numbers of hospital admissions and patients attending health centres. Dr Wallace is also taking into account longer-term possibilities: "Proper planning covers much more than just the obvious things, like more flu cases, or more people suffering falls on icy pavements.

"Issues that we're aware of throughout the year can also be even more important at this time of year. Good communication between all our NHS Greater Glasgow staff is always crucial but in winter it can mean the difference between a patient getting home speedily or staying in hospital another night."

The Board also has contingency plans for emergency incidents or outbreaks such as influenza.


ENDS


Notes for Editors


For more information contact the Press Office at NHS Greater Glasgow Communications on 0141 201 4429.

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