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Your spotlight on local services

A red bag: a simple change packing a difference


A simple initiative is being rolled out across North East Lincolnshire to help people living in care homes receive quick and effective transfer and treatment should they need to go into hospital.

The red bag initiative, or ‘hospital transfer pathway’, is being rolled out by Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust in partnership with North East Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group and care and nursing homes.

Under the new scheme, when a patient is taken into Grimsby hospital in an emergency they will have a Red Bag to take with them. The bag will contain:

  • General health information, including any existing medical conditions
  • Medication information so ambulance and hospital staff know immediately what medication they are taking 
  • Personal belongings (such as clothes for day of discharge, glasses, hearing aid, dentures or other items). 

Quality matron Rachel Greenbeck said: “It is a simple initiative but one that will provide better communication between care homes and Grimsby hospital at all points of the resident’s journey into hospital and back home again.”

The standardised paperwork will ensure everyone involved in the care of the patient will have necessary information about their general health, including the current concern, social information and any health information. On discharge the care home will receive a discharge summary with the medications in the red bag.

Rachel said: “This new method of working will hopefully see a reduction in the amount of time taken for ambulance transfer times and for A&E assessment times and reduced avoidable hospital admissions.”

The scheme has been designed to ensure that residents living in care homes receive safe, coordinated and efficient care should they need to go into hospital in an emergency.

The pathway is a link that supports care homes, the ambulance service and the local hospital to meet the requirements of the NICE guidance on transition between inpatient hospital setting and care homes.

Benefits of the red bag include:

  • The red bag aims to improve patients’ experience of being taken to and from hospital and provides more patient centred care
  • Improved efficiency in the admission and discharge process through having important information readily available in one place, saving time at each stage of the patient's care and allows staff to make more informed decisions about the person they are caring for
  • Communication by all staff involved in the resident’s care to and from hospital will be improved
  • The red bag clearly identifies a patient as being a care home resident and this means that it may be possible for the patient to be discharged sooner. Including clearer coordination of medications and more inclusive discharge planning
  • Reduces loss of documentation
  • Reduces loss of personal belongings.

Bruce Bradshaw, project lead for North East Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group said: “The red bag pathway is a true example of collaboration between health and care agencies. Use of the bags has a number of proven benefits including increased communication between hospital teams and care home staff, shorter stays in hospital and improved quality of information provided to care homes when their residents are discharged.”

Rachel said: “By having all of the clinical information available it will help to ensure the patient receives safe, coordinated and efficient care. Having the personal wellbeing information will also enable staff to provide more person-centred care. It should also significantly improve relationships and channels of communication between care home staff and the hospital.”

She added: “No one wants to spend any longer in hospital than they need to and being transferred from a care home to hospital in an emergency can feel traumatic. That’s why the red bag scheme is a great example of a simple idea with a big impact.”



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