'Red bags' help keep New Forest patients stuff safe in hospital

Julian Lewis MP, Desmond Swayne MP and Sara Owen West Hampshire CCG Red Bags December 2018

Published by Faye Tryhorn at 10:57am 11th December 2018.

West Hampshire health bosses are rolling out the idea locally to help people feel more secure.

The red bags are being phased in across the country, following advice from NHS England, with the New Forest being the latest area to start using them.

They're used to carry health information, care plan and medication for care home residents - as well as important personal items like slippers, glasses and dentures.

It's all to make sure that people's belongings are kept together during hospital stays.

Julian Lewis MP, Desmond Swayne MP and Sara Owen West Hampshire CCG Red Bags December 2018
The red bags are now starting to be used in the New Forest and will soon roll out to other areas


The idea has been tried out in South West London over the last few years, with some great results:

  • The project reduced average hospital stays by three to four days - that saves £167,000 a year
  • There have been fewer items like hearing aids, dentures and glasses lost during hospital stays - £290,000 has been saved by the NHS as direct result of that
  • The idea's also improved communication between care homes and hospital staff - saving time, resources and duplication

Red bags have also had the backing of both of the New Forest's MPs, Julian Lewis and Desmond Swayne (pictured top with Sara Owen, Commissioning Manager at West Hampshire Clinical Commissioning Group).

Old Person in Hospital
The bags aim to keep people's belongings together during a hospital stay

Dr Julian Lewis MP said:

"This simple but essential step is a common sense solution to the problem of ensuring that vulnerable patients who suddenly have to go into hospital are fully equipped with everything necessary for their safety and welfare.

"The CCG's initiative in reaching out to nursing homes in this way deserves to become a model for the NHS as a whole."

Health bosses has been working with partners like the South Central Ambulance Service, Southern Health and University Hospital Southampton.

They've been trying to help staff understand the system and know who is responsible for checking the bags when someone goes into hospital and when they return home afterwards.

The Chairman of the CCG, Dr Sarah Schofield added:

"This is a simple way of preventing people's important possessions from getting lost when they go into hospital. It is also an effective way of ensuring all important information is kept with the patient in one place.

"I would like to thank our colleagues in the local hospitals, ambulance trust and care homes for their enthusiastic support for red bags."

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