‘Disjointed dis­charge sys­tem could put pa­tients at risk’

Glamorgan Gazette - - Your Views -

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.”

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