​The Red Bag

The Lambeth and Southwark 'Red Bag' hospital transfer pathway


The 'Red Bag' initiative is a new hospital transfer pathway for care homes residents in Lambeth and Southwark.  It has been developed in collaboration with twenty Care Homes for Older Adults in Lambeth and Southwark, Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital, King's College Hospital, London Ambulance Service, and Lambeth and Southwark CCG. 

The Red Bag pathway originated in Sutton, where it was shown to lead to smoother transfers of care, increased communication between care homes and hospitals, better patient care and reduced length of hospital stay for care home residents.  Following this success, the Red Bag has since been introduced in a number of different areas in London and across the UK.   


The 'Red Bag' explained                                               

Care homes for older adults in Lambeth and Southwark are supplied with distinctive, purpose-made red bags.  When a care home resident goes into hospital, a red bag goes with them.  It goes with the resident in the ambulance, stays with them throughout their hospital stay and is returned back to the care home with the person. 

The red bag keeps safe all the care home resident's personal belongings, such as dentures, glasses, hearing aid and change of clothes, which they may need during their stay in hospital or on the day of discharge.

The bag also contains standardised documentation which provides important information about the person's needs, preferences, medical history and details of the current concern.  This helps ambulance and hospital staff make quicker clinical decisions and provide more person-centred care.  As the red bag clearly identifies the person as a care home resident, the hospital staff know to communicate with the care home during their stay and work in partnership with them around the individual's transfer back to the home.

When the person is ready to leave hospital, the staff complete the nursing transfer letter which is part of the standardised documentation and also include a discharge summary in the bag.  This means the care home can find all the key information about the person's time in hospital in the red bag and provide the best care possible once they've returned.  Along with the paperwork, the hospital also include all medication (TTOs) for the person in the red bag. 

Further information and documentation for health and care professionals

Health and care professionals can download the following documents and promotional materials from this page: 

The standardised documentation to be included in the red bag:


Page added 07.11.17