PATIENTS in Dorset are set to benefit from new and upgraded discharge lounges to free up hospital beds and cut wait times.

Backed by a share of £15m in government funding across the south west, Royal Bournemouth Hospital will be given £100,000 to improve the discharge experience for those who no longer need urgent care.

The lounges will be available for patients who are due to be discharged that day but are waiting for medication or transportation, helping free up beds and reduce waits for patients waiting to be admitted from A&E.

In total, 42 discharge lounges are opening across the country to provide 439 additional beds, 364 chairs, and 44 extra trolleys in hospitals.

Bournemouth Echo: Corridor beds inside Royal Bournemouth Hospital during Covid.Corridor beds inside Royal Bournemouth Hospital during Covid. (Image: Stock image)

Additionally, University Hospitals Dorset will receive £2,421,000 to benefit care homes in the county as part of the discharge transition.

The new facilities are backed nationally by £50 million as announced by the health secretary Steve Barclay in January.

He said: “These new discharge lounges are another example of how we’re investing to cut waiting times – one of the government’s top five priorities. They are already benefitting tens of thousands of patients by freeing up beds and reducing the time for patients waiting to be admitted from A&E.

“The hubs will allow ambulances to manoeuvre more quickly and cut out unnecessary delays, and the lounges will free up hospital beds, while offering patients a more comfortable environment to recover in while they’re waiting to leave hospital.”

Bournemouth Echo: Health secretary Steve BarclayHealth secretary Steve Barclay

NHSE national director of integrated urgent and emergency care, Sarah-Jane Marsh, added: “The hard work of health and social care teams across the country has meant we have seen improvements in ambulance response times and A&E performance since December, despite the impact of seasonal viruses, industrial action, and higher than usual bed occupancy.

“These dedicated spaces will help us further improve patient experience and help avoid unnecessary hospital admissions ahead of next winter.”

The NHS says it has met the first target in its recovery plan to virtually eliminate waits of more than two years and has cut 18 month waits by around 91 per cent from the peak in September 2021.