‘Disjointed discharge system could put patients at risk’
THE “disjointed” and “fragmented” process of discharging patients from hospital back under the care of their GP could be putting them at risk of harm.
That’s according to a new report by Healthcare Inspectorate Wales (HIW) which highlighted con- cerns over the quality and timeliness of discharge provided by NHS hospitals across the country.
It said that while health boards and trusts had the correct discharge policies in place, there appeared to be a “lack of awareness and understanding” of the processes by staff on hospital wards. This lack of clarity, combined with poor IT infrastructure and a failure by healthcare professionals to take responsibility for effective communication, could be putting patients at risk, inspectors warned.
In addition, the report noted confusion over how much patient information should be shared between the hospital and GP surgery.
There were also worries that patients were not being given clear instructions from hospital staff about how to take their medication, or of any potential side-effects. But it did find that more wardbased pharmacies helped improve patients’ knowledge of the medication they were taking home.
The report states: “Poor discharge can lead to poor outcomes for patients and for their loved ones.
“The challenges within this report need to be overcome in order to ensure that the necessary improvements are made across Wales.”
Dr Martin O’Donnell, vice-chairman of the Royal College of GPs in Wales, said: “Patient discharge arrangements are a common source of frustration for patients and they can be frustrating for GPs as well. When they leave hospitals, patients are not discharged from care, rather their care is transferred back to primary care.
A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “The report recognises electronic discharge has had a positive effect in Wales. The Medicines Transcribing and e-Discharge (MTeD) system is currently being rolled out to all hospitals in Wales, providing GPs with immediate access to highquality electronic discharge information.
“We are also increasingly sharing this information with patients’ nominated community pharmacists to ensure that any changes to medicines made in hospital are continued in the community.
“We are also commissioning a review of ICT infrastructure in NHS Wales.
“We will consider the findings of the report.”