PATIENTS can expect their NHS care to be delivered as quickly as possible with the introduction of a new system to avoid lengthy hospitals stays.

More than 2,200 care homes in the region have signed up to a new digital tool that allows health and social care staff to see how many vacancies there are in their area.

The online system has been designed to save NHS North East and Yorkshire staff hours of time phoning around to check availability and it should help people to get the right care or return home as quickly as possible.

Patients who need a care home placement will be supported to get out of hospital sooner thanks to new technology being rolled out to care homes, councils and hospitals across the country by NHS England as part of its Long Term Plan for the health service.

In 2018, around a quarter of a million hospital bed days in England were taken up by people who were medically fit enough to be discharged, but who faced delays in an appropriate care home being found that could meet their recovery needs.

The NHS, working with councils, reduced the number of lost bed days by 20 per cent between 2017 and last year, and making the new tool – the Capacity Tracker – more widely available, is one of a number of measures being taken to reduce unnecessary delays leaving hospital still further.

The Capacity Tracker now provides access to over 85,000 care home beds in the North of England – which means access to the vacancy information of well over half the total beds in the region.

Ruth May, chief nursing officer for England, said: “One of the central ambitions of the NHS Long Term Plan is to better support people to age well, and that means joining up different services locally to better meet people’s needs.

“By using this technology to work together more closely, hospitals, local authorities and care homes can ensure that people get the right care in the right place at the right time, and aren't left waiting in hospital unnecessarily.

“Working with our local government, hospitals and community services as well as patients and their families has been essential to developing this new approach and will be key to rolling it out everywhere.”

The initiative links health and social care professionals more closely and reduces wasted time and resources.