Ditching normal office hours in favour of shifts and weekend work in hospitals to cut bed blocking has earned Surrey County Council national recognition.
The authority has been commended in the category for improved partnerships between health and local government in the Health Service Journal’s annual awards.
Surrey abandoned the traditional Monday to Friday 9-5 routine for staff helping to discharge people from hospital.
Instead they switched to shifts that stretch late into the evening and across the weekend, which has helped almost 800 more people in a year swap wards for home at convenient times.
Shifts were established between 9am and 5pm on Saturdays and Sundays and from 8am to 8pm on weekdays at the county’s five main hospitals* so people picking up patients do not have to book time off work, make special arrangements to collect loved ones or book a time to see social care staff.
Judges for the trade publication described Surrey’s initiative as “very impressive integrated working”.
Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care Mel Few said: “It’s fantastic to receive such prestigious national recognition for this new way of working to benefit patients.
“Any delay in leaving hospital after treatment is frustrating and people stand a much better chance of recovering well if they’re back home.
“Switching to shifts and weekend work is all about putting patients’ needs first by helping them leave hospital quicker and at convenient times for their loved ones. On top of that it cuts bed blocking and helps people get home quicker, which saves public funds.”
* Ashford and St Peter’s, Royal Surrey, Frimley Park, Epsom General, East Surrey.