While 3D printing is becoming more widely used in general engineering the use of 3D printing in the medical and allied sectors such as dentistry has only just begun.
To help reduce delayed discharges, NHS Digital has announced £1.4 million funding for local authorities and their NHS partners to integrate their patient discharge from hospital into local authority social care process.
Applications are now open for local authorities with adult social care responsibilities to create integrated digital assessment, discharge and withdrawal notices (ADW) with at least one of their NHS partners.
There was an estimated £820 million gross cost to the NHS in 2016 due to approximately 2.7 million older patients in hospital who no longer required acute treatment, leading to 1.15 million hospital bed days lost, according to the National Audit Office.
The current, non-digital systems in place to handle ADWs have been identified by local authorities and their NHS partners as one of the stumbling blocks to the transfer of care, and so local authorities run the risk of being non-compliant with the Care Act 2014.
This has led NHS Digital, in conjunction with NHS England, to offer funding to partnerships that have the potential to speed up the process.
Tom Denwood, director of data and integration at NHS Digital, said: “Local authorities and their NHS partners have a huge challenge ahead of them in tackling the steadily worsening problems caused by delayed transfers of care, so that patients can be supported back into their own homes and regain their independence as quickly as possible.
"These issues impact on the NHS, the patients and their carers, especially during the winter months when demand on public health services increases.
"We know that technology has the potential to speed up the discharge process by integrating the health and social care IT systems, and we are here to support both local government and the wider NHS to help make this happen."
Ben Moody, head of health and social care at techUK, said: “This offers a good opportunity for our members, both to those who are delivering solutions to individual organisations or delivering integrated records, to improve citizen care.”