A SIMPLE sticker could help tackle the bed-blocking problems in Worcestershire’s acute hospitals.

As we have reported, as many as 80 patients at a time have been taking up hospital beds even though they have been deemed “ready to go”.

That means almost 10 per cent of the county’s 933 acute beds have been unnecessarily filled, leading to scheduled operations being cancelled and placing huge strain on capacity during a period of unprecedented demand when emergency admissions have risen by nine per cent.

One of the many reasons delays in discharging a patient can occur is if staff are waiting for the results of a blood sample.

As part of ongoing efforts to speed up the situation, staff in the pathology lab at Worc-estershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust have come up with an idea they hope will prove simple but effective.

The trust has now introduced a brightly-coloured sticker for use on blood sample requests at Worcester-shire Royal, Redditch Alex-andra and Kidderminster hospitals, so lab staff can easily identify patients who need their sample results in order to be discharged.

Gill Godding, lead transfusion practitioner, said: “I had seen a similar idea taken on by the pathology team before, but nothing had been taken up on a county-wide level. Even if it means that just a few patients get to go home earlier, it will be worth it.”

Stewart Messer, chief operating officer, added: “This is a great idea and demonstrates that there is always more that we can do. “We are reliant on front-line staff generating these ideas so that we can continually improve services and it just goes to show that even small schemes can make a difference.”

Staff are also holding four “capacity meetings” every day and special rounds to identify patients ready to be discharged have been introduced in a bid to tackle the problem.