Ipswich Hospital has received £640,000 from the NHS to create two discharge lounges for patients waiting to leave wards.

The new lounges will allow them to wait at the hospital while paperwork and drugs are sorted out before they leave - while freeing beds for new admissions.

Two lounges have been created - one for people who are able to walk and the other for those on stretchers or in beds.

East Anglian Daily Times: One of the new discharge lounges at Ipswich Hospital.One of the new discharge lounges at Ipswich Hospital. (Image: ESNEFT)

They are off the main corridor and near the South Wards so can easily be accessed by patients and their families.

Bed blocking causes problems at hospital

Site matron Leanne Ribbans said: "Patients can sit in comfortable chairs, in a comfortable environment, and don’t have to lay on beds trolleys waiting to be discharged.

"Before, we were using an area which was dark and hard to find for people collecting patients."

East Anglian Daily Times: Nick Hulme welcomed the new discharge lounges.Nick Hulme welcomed the new discharge lounges. (Image: Sarah Lucy Brownn)

Hospital chief executive Nick Hulme said: "We have always had discharge areas but one of my frustrations has been that they have never really been fit for purpose. They were never really designed as discharge lounges.

"What that has meant is that it has not been a great patient experience for them and their families and it has also meant that our staff have also been a bit reluctant to move patients from the ward into the discharge area because it is not a great way to end your stay in hospital."

Escalation areas help to speed discharge of patients

Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said: “These new discharge lounges are another example of how we’re investing to cut waiting times – one of the government’s top five priorities.

“All of this is to ensure we can bring down waiting times and prepare for next winter.”

A further £135k has been offered to Colchester General Hospital to improve its patient discharge lounges as well.