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Hertfordshire Red Bag smooths the way for hospital stays

Hertfordshire Red Bag

Keeping care home residents’ details and belongings safely in one place.

A simple red plastic bag is smoothing the way for care home residents who need to go into hospital.

The Red Bag is transferred with the care home resident on their journey from the care home in the ambulance to the hospital and back again. The aim is to improve the care and experience of the patient or resident by ensuring all their information, medication and personal belongings are inside the Red Bag and transferred effectively between locations. 

When a resident needs to go into hospital, care home staff pack the bag with personal documentation, medication and a set of clothes for discharge. The bag is handed to ambulance staff who pass it to hospital staff on arrival.

Red Bag provides nurses and doctors with up-to-date information about the patient, meaning fewer calls to the care home, and easier interaction with the patient. It also helps to reduce personal items getting lost in transit.

The same process is repeated – with up-to-date documentation – when the resident is ready to return home.


Q What happens to the Red Bag if the resident is discharged to a new Care Home?
A The resident’s belongings, documentation and medication will be transferred out of the Red Bag into a clean hospital bag. Each Red Bag has an identification number which is unique to each Care Home and so the Integrated Discharge Team (IDT)/Impartial Assessor (IA) service will ensure the Red Bag is returned to the correct Care Home.

Q How does the Red Bag get back to the Care Home if the resident dies in hospital?
Each Red Bag has an identification number which is unique to each Care Home. The IDT/IA will ensure the Red Bag is returned to the correct Care Home.

Q Does each resident have their own Red Bag?
A No, there will not be a Red Bag for each resident. If you feel you need more or less red bags, please email

Q How will the Red Bag be cleaned?
A When the Red Bag returns to the Care Home, please follow the cleaning instructions, which are inside the bag, to ensure you comply with infection control.

Q Do we use the Red Bag when admitting to all hospitals?
A Currently the Red Bag is only to be used for emergency admissions to the Lister Hospital, although we are looking to roll this out into PAH. We appreciate you may not always know which hospital the ambulance crew will be taking the resident to so we have made sure surrounding hospitals are aware of this project and so we will be able to get the bag back to your home.

Q Do we get extra copies of the documentation?
A The first copy of the documentation will be provided and HCPA have emailed copies to all the Care Homes. Care Homes can also access electronic copies of the documentation on the website . If documents are updated, the website will be updated with the new versions and HCPA will email the new documentation to all the Care Homes.

Q Are all Care Homes using the Red Bag?
A Currently only older people Care Homes are using the Red Bag. If you believe you should have a red bag and you don’t, please contact

Q Who do we contact if we have any queries about the Red Bag?
A Any queries can be sent to and someone from the project team will respond as soon as they can.

Q What happens if the ambulance service tells us we must include all medication?
A Please ask for the name of the crew and send an email explaining what has happened to We will follow this up with East of England Ambulance Trust.

Q What happens if the bag does not come back to the care home with the resident?
A If the resident returns home without the Red Bag please call the hospitals IDT/IA who should be able to locate the bag for you.

Q What happens if we need more Red Bags?
A If you feel you need more Red Bags please email and someone from the project team will respond as soon as they can.

Q When the resident is in hospital, how do you know who’s bag is who’s?
A There is a small clear pocket on the outside of the Red Bags which should have a card/paper inside containing the patients’ name and Care Home contact details

Q What happens if the resident returns and some of their belongings are missing from the Red Bag?
A Please call the ward that the resident was discharged from and discuss this with the ward staff.

Q If the resident is going into hospital for a routine operation does the Red Bag have to be used?
A These bags are intended to be used just for Emergency Admissions. However, if a resident is having a routine operation but will be spending the night in hospital then you can use the Red Bag.

Q Do care homes need to send critical drugs into hospital with the resident?
A If a patient is on any rare or critical drugs then we advise that these are packed in to the red bag and sent into hospital with the resident.

Q Should care homes be sending in liquid paracetamol with the resident to hospital?
A The hospital pharmacy team has advised that there is no need to send liquid paracetamol in as soluble paracetamol is available in most areas and will (in most cases) be a suitable substitute.

Please watch the following video produced by Hertfordshire Care Providers Association. 

Useful documents for the Red Bag

Documents to go into the Red Folder

For information