Health board lays out winter readiness plan

Lessons are being learnt - that was the message heard by NHS Fife’s board at their meeting, reports FIONA PURNELL.

Members heard preparations are well underway to ensure the board is prepared to deal with whatever winter may throw our way.

And although there is a separate emergency plan for dealing with extreme weather - last year’s arctic conditions are being factored into the annual plan.

John Wilson, deputy chief executive and chief executive of the operations division, told the board meeting in Glenrothes: “We are required to produce a plan on how to prepare the organisation for winter.

“We have been working with other organisations, in particular with Fife Council, on key issues to learn lessons from last year which was particularly difficult given the weather.

“We learned valuable lessons around communication and transportation which we have taken on board.”

Over the last two winters service delivery by NHS Fife has been affected in several ways including the balance of emergency and elective activity and the flow of patients in hospitals from admission through to discharge.

A report before the board said the issue throughout last winter remained the inability to discharge patients in a timely manner both from the acute and community hospitals.

The annual winter plan 2011/12 has been developed taking into consideration ongoing work as part of the change fund proposals and also the issues associated with the move of acute services to the new wing at Victoria Hospital during December and January.

The key issues are:

* Optimisation of patient flow to allow timely admission and discharge across the system

* Appropriate, accurate, up-to-date information available to all organisations to allow the assessment of the ongoing situation

* Effective communication with staff and the public to raise awareness of service availability and key health advice for winter

* Effective management of Norovirus outbreaks

* Robust plans for effective delivery of out of hours services

* Plans for successful delivery of the seasonal flu vaccination programme to at risk groups and staff

* Systems in place to co-ordinate weekly reports to the Scottish Government

Mr Wilson added: “It demonstrates we’ve looked at all the annual issues and taken on board particular areas of concern from last year and found how to keep services moving.”