Sending patients home too soon ‘wastes hospital care’


Rosemary Burnett in The Times 1st April reports: Sending patients home too soon ‘wastes hospital care’ 

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%..

This entry was posted in A Personal View, Rationing, Stories in the Media on by .

About Roger Burns - retired GP

I am a retired GP and medical educator. I have supported patient participation throughout my career, and my practice, St Thomas; Surgery, has had a longstanding and active Patient Participation Group (PPG). I support the idea of Community Health Councils, although I feel they should be funded at arms length from government. I have taught GP trainees for 30 years, and been a Programme Director for GP training in Pembrokeshire 20 years. I served on the Pembrokeshire LHG and LHB for a total of 10 years. I completed an MBA in 1996, and I along with most others, never had an exit interview from any job in the NHS! I completed an MBA in 1996, and was a runner up for the Adam Smith prize for economy and efficiency in government in that year. This was owing to a suggestion (St Thomas' Mutual) that practices had incentives for saving by being allowed to buy rationed out services in the following year.

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