Female doctor visits elderly patient at home.

More community services needed for early-discharged patients

A report by Healthwatch England published today (Oct 26) has revealed the knock-on effects that the Government’s early Discharge to Assess model has had during the Coronavirus pandemic.

The report gathers opinions from 590 people who had been discharged early from hospital in order to clear beds to prepare for the impending surge from Covid-19 patients.

The report concluded that while discharge to assess can be incredibly beneficial to patients’ mental and physical, services sometimes fall short of expectations due to a lack of community services available to patients.

According to Healthwatch England’s report, over 80% of patients reported that they didn’t receive any follow-up visit and assessment at home, with almost one in five of these reported unmet care needs.

In a blog post for the British Medical Journal, Chair of Health Watch England, Robert Francis, said:

“As we ramp up for a tough winter, I urge anyone reading our report to focus on the simple solutions we put forward. For example:

  • Guaranteeing everyone a point of contact after discharge should they need help (it’s in the guidance but needs to be standard practice)
  • Avoiding discharging patients at night
  • Always asking patients about their transport arrangements home
  • And if they have to be discharged without knowing their Covid status, carrying out a proper risk assessment to help families and carers prevent any infection.

Some of this can be fixed and fixed right away.

There were of course some bigger and more systemic issues highlighted. In particular the lack of resourcing in community services and social care.  We will continue to raise these with the government as they develop their thinking on reform.”

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NHE May/June 2024

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