Inadequate aftercare following a stay in hospital is undoing the benefits of intensive and expensive NHS treatment, according to the Government’s chief adviser on carers.
Dame Philippa Russell said that frail and vulnerable people were routinely being discharged with no arrangements in place for their recuperation.
Her comments were informed by recent experience in caring for a close relative who suffered a stroke. Visiting him in hospital a fortnight after the stroke, she was alarmed to find him in the discharge ward with his bag packed. She was informed that he was ready to go home, a week ahead of schedule.
There was no discharge plan — the document detailing what special care or equipment would be needed — and no one asked whether things were ready at home. There was no opportunity to talk to his consultant. It was a Friday afternoon, and so impossible to get the help of a carer. The GP practice had already closed for the weekend.
“I still remember the chill running down my spine. It was very, very frightening,” she said.
Research by the older people’s charity Royal Voluntary Services estimates that 15 per cent of patients over 75 are readmitted within 28 days of discharge.
In addition, each year 150,000 people aged over 75 are discharged from hospital with no support in place, in the worst cases to an empty house with relatives living many miles away……
And so it goes on. The undercapacity has been deliberate. It exists in hospital beds, medical students, doctors, nurses, Physiotherapists, Occupational Therapists, Psychologists, Paramedics and Ambulance men, and almost all clinical staff, but not in administration…. I have asked for my WAM to raise the issue of non-clinical overhead and compare today’s figures with 1952 when it was 3%..