Health watchdog’s report calls for more attention to process of patient discharge in Suffolk

Annie Topping, chief executive of Healthwatch Suffolk.

Annie Topping, chief executive of Healthwatch Suffolk. - Credit: Archant

A health watchdog has called for more attention to be paid when patients are discharged from hospital or other care premises.

Healthwatch Suffolk has published its report into patient experiences of being discharged from hospital or care centres across the county. It is intended to support a national inquiry into unsafe discharges being conducted by Healthwatch England.

Views from Suffolk patients and service users have been submitted for the national inquiry which is due to be published later this year and used to improve services in the county.

The survey received both positive and negative feedback on a number of themes ranging from the quality of advice offered at discharge through to the discharge process itself, and support thereafter.

According to Healthwatch Suffolk, the findings show patients are not receiving suitable information on discharge to enable to them to self-care of understand their support services and where the assessment prior to discharge has been insufficient it has impacted negatively on the patient’s return home.

There have been cases where patients have not been allowed to remain on care premises until a suitable public transport option is available.

Healthwatch Suffolk chief executive Annie Topping said: “The Healthwatch network has been reporting stories of poorly planned discharge. This includes cases where elderly patients have been sent home too early and without the equipment or care packages needed to look after them.

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“The views expressed in our report for Suffolk only serve to strength this feedback. Whilst we cannot claim our results to be representative of every patient in Suffolk, we consider there are many of these incidents and most could be avoided if more care and attention was paid to preparing the ground for people to return to their home and community from a hospital or social care service.

“We’re encouraging our local health and social care providers and commissioners to learn from these experiences. We will be working to take forward the findings of this report and to track improvements.”