Communication cited as main issue in hospital discharge process
A survey by Healthwatch in the Humber region into the experience of being discharged from hospital has found that communication was the biggest issue. It also recommended that the use of “patient passports” should be considered to help make medical staff aware of patients’ pre-existing conditions.
A total of 98 patients and 26 care providers took part in the research, which covered Hull, East Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire, in a joint project by Healthwatch teams in all three areas. The decision to investigate the regional picture followed national studies since 2015 by Healthwatch England and the Health Service Ombudsman into the discharge process and subsequent social care service.
In this region, two surveys were conducted during the winter of 2016/7 – one for patients and the other for care providers. The survey was also complemented by “Enter and View” visits to the discharge lounges at Hull Royal Infirmary and Scunthorpe General Hospital, where Healthwatch gathered feedback from users and staff, as well as observed the environment and experience.
In all, 80% of respondents felt the process was OK, good or very good.
A number of recommendations have been made based on the report’s findings. This includes the need for better communication, including patients being made aware of delays, the reasons for them, and the stage they are at in the process. Care providers felt a better awareness of the timing of arrangements would help them achieve a smooth transfer.
The use of “patient passports” is cited as useful in sharing information between hospitals and care providers, particularly where patients have dementia or other cognitive difficulties.
Trusts are being asked to consider fast-tracking the supply of medication upon discharge so that patients can be served by pharmacy staff as quickly as possible.
The use of a bedded discharge area, as at Hull Royal Infirmary, is also suggested.
Healthwatch East Riding of Yorkshire Delivery Manager, Matthew Fawcett says: “The survey asked about the positive and negative aspects of the discharge process and, while the findings reflect the national research, we are pleased that the majority felt the process was working at least OK. There’s always a need for improvement and these suggestions will be submitted to the Trusts.”
The full report can be downloaded below