Patient Hotels – ‘One to Watch’

Patient Hotels – ‘One to Watch’

According to NHS figures, the cost of keeping a patient in hospital overnight is approximately £300 compared with around half of that for a hotel room. The NHS believes that “bed blocking” (the long-term occupation of hospital beds due to a shortage of suitable care elsewhere) costs them £4,000,000 per week in inefficient use of their resources.

The NHS estimates that 30,000 patients a year are kept in hospital despite being well enough to be discharged. The vast majority of these patients just require monitoring, supervision or diagnostics. They are commonly elderly patients, new mothers or recovering stroke patients, who could benefit from less acute hotel-style facilities.

The accommodation is usually in the hospital grounds and can be used by family members who want to be close to a patient in hospital. They also include elderly patients waiting for a place in a nursing home or those with dementia. Patient Hotels are designed for people who need to be near, but not in hospital.

As well as offering more freedom and flexibility for patients, the buildings are designed to save money, since the cost of providing and maintaining a hotel room is cheaper than that of a hospital bed.

Patient Hotels are becoming more common in Finland, Sweden and Norway, where typically a 30 bed patient hotel costs 20% less to build than a hospital ward.

With modern construction methods of prefabrication techniques, these savings could be even greater. There is also a time benefit that can be attained from the speed with which these building can be erected.

The life cycle costs of facility management and non-clinical services such as catering, front of house reception, cleaning, portage, security and car parking can be managed as part of a management or partnership arrangement relieving the Hospital Trusts of this resource squandering non-core task.

There has been resistance to private sector involvement but a few NHS Trusts and Health Charities in the UK have dabbled with the concept, but they are the exception rather than the rule.

The first in the UK was opened in 1994 at Nottingham City Hospital. NHS England is reported to be considering the possibilities of increasing their use to ease the demand on acute hospital beds.

The major benefits of providing Patient Hotels can be summarised as follows:

• Reducing length of stay in an acute hospital bed.
• Increased throughput (improving efficiency) without risking safety
• Relieve “bed blocking” problems caused by patients staying in hospital due to reduced funding for home help and care in the community
• Hotel style fixtures and fittings allows quick turn round of bed facilities
• Reduction in capital cost per bed
• Reduced life cycle costs, nursing and non-clinical services
• Reduced operational and maintenance costs
• Diverting skilled human resource to where they are most needed
• Permitting greater access for families
• Hotel facilities can improves patient privacy and dignity.
• Reduces risk of cross infection
• Allows for longer and more flexible visiting arrangements
• Younger patients will feel less fear in a non-hospital environment and can have a family member staying
• Can be combined with/into a Hospital Campus with an integrated health centre/GP surgery utilising common facilities and resources
• Improving patient experience facilitating rehabilitation
• Could re-use derelict buildings on hospital sites, refitting them to a hotel standard which is cheaper than to a hospital standard
• Could help CCGs achieve their QIPP targets

Opportunities abound for the integration of Smart Technology into Patient Hotels. The installation of warden security systems as well as state-of-the-art electronic surveillance and remote wi-fi health monitoring are just a few possible applications.

In addition the use of modern construction techniques that will reduce the carbon footprint of Hospital Buildings is another beneficial opportunity.

The provision of Patient Hotels to resolve the bed blocking problem in NHS Hospitals is “one to watch”.

By Chris Booth, Director