AROUND 350,000 patients spend more than three weeks in acute hospitals each year.

Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust is now looking at new ways to safely reduce a patient's length of stay in hospital, under newly launched initiative, Where Best Next?

The scheme also aims to improve transport arrangements for patients.

Chief executive officer of Salisbury District Hospital, Cara Charles-Barks, said: "Our aim is to treat patients as quickly as clinically possible, enabling people to get home and back to their normal lives.

"Making sure that patients don’t stay here for any longer than is clinically necessary reduces the pressure on our wards and is better for everyone."

For people aged 80 years and over, a stay of more than 10 days leads to the equivalent of 10 years of muscle ageing.

One initiative already launched to tackle the length of hospital stays is the Red Bag scheme, set up by Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which is designed to help Salisbury care home residents, who are admitted to hospital, receive improved care and return home sooner.

Cara added: "Through the red bags, all the patient's information and personal belongings are together in one place, so that those providing care have access to the information they need, reducing the risk of misplacing a patient’s belongings and help us to get people home more quickly."