The “Pick Me Up” project launched this week asks employers to give staff as much flexibility as possible to collect loved ones from hospital, when they are ready for discharge, rather than waiting until after their shift.
The scheme, the first of its kind in Scotland, will lift pressure on wards, A&E departments and ambulances, NHS Grampian interim deputy chief officer of acute services, Cameron Matthew said.
He added that it could free up up to 2,000 beds a year.
Hospitals currently see a peak in discharges around 6pm, when many people finish work and are able to collect loved ones, but patients should ideally be gone by midday, he said.
Businesses including Aberdeen International Airport, Aberdeen Inspired, Aberdein Considine and Hampton have pledged support to the scheme.
Cameron Matthew said: “This is the first scheme in the country like this, and, as well as asking businesses to sign-up, we’d ask members of the public to come and collect their loved-ones, as quickly as they can, once they are ready to be discharged.
“If businesses and the public get on board through this project and we are able to free up three extra beds a day, that’s almost 1,100 each year; free up five or six a day and you’re at 2,000 beds each year. The difference that would make to the every day running of the hospital and the pressure on staff can’t be under estimated.”
“If businesses are able to be flexible to allow employees to take their lunch hour at a different time, take a hour lieu, or simply give an employee a hour off, to bring relatives or friends home it would be of immense benefit to NHS Grampian, its frontline workers and, ultimately, its patients.
“The cumulative impact, on our NHS locally, of businesses signing-up would be great and ultimately have the potential to save lives and let us treat more acutely ill patients more quickly.”
Acute director for nursing and midwifery, Jenny McNicol added: “Through the Pick Me Up Project, we are asking businesses and organisations to help us to get patients who are ready for discharge home from hospital more quickly, by allowing their employees to collect relatives or friends during the day.
“This will free-up bed space to help us treat more acutely ill patients, more quickly. Joe Bloggs collecting his mother at 10am rather than 6pm might well free-up space at the Emergency Department and an ambulance to potentially be available to support another lifesaving emergency later that day.”
She added: “We recognise that not all businesses will be able to accommodate all requests all of the time. Instead, businesses willing to sign-up to support the Pick Me Up Project are simply asked to do so wherever possible, to promote their support for the initiative to staff and encourage line managers to accommodate what will hopefully be a limited number of such requests from their teams.”