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For better health and social care

New NHS Red Bag Scheme


Innovative red bags that help care home residents admitted to hospital be discharged quicker, are being rolled out across the country. 

When a resident becomes unwell and is assessed as needing hospital care, care home staff pack a dedicated red bag that contains standardised information about the resident’s general health, any existing medical conditions they have, medication they are taking, and the current health concern. The bags are handed to ambulance crews by carers, and travel with patients to hospital where they are then handed to the doctor.

The bag also has room for personal belongings, such as clothes for day of discharge, glasses, hearing aid etc, and stays with the resident from the time they go to hospital, until they return to their care home. When residents are ready to go home, a copy of their discharge summary (which details the care they received in hospital) is placed in the red bag so that staff have access to this important information when their residents arrive back at the care home.

The Red Bag scheme, which was pioneered by Sutton Homes of Care in 2015, aims to equip ambulance and hospital staff to determine the treatment a person needs quickly, and effectively. After a trial period, Sutton reported that this simple initiative led to a reduction in hospital stays by four days, a saving of £167,000 a year. The scheme also helped reduce occurrences of patients losing personal items.

If you are a care home resident, why not ask if the Red Bag scheme is available in your local area? You can find out more about the scheme via the NHS website.