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Discharge Delays for Elderly Patients - Public Accounts Committee

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26 Jul 2016

The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh has welcomed a report by the Public Accounts Committee which challenges the Government to address the scale and cost of delays in discharging older patients from hospital in England.

The Committee's report urges new measures to tackle discharge delays, which are bad for both patients' health and the financial sustainability of the NHS and local government. The Committee finds there is a poor understanding of the scale of discharge problems, with official data substantially under-estimating the range of delays and the number of older patients affected. There is unacceptable variation in local performance on discharging such patients, says the Committee, finding that while good discharge practice is well understood, "implementation is patchy across local areas". It concludes poor sharing of patient information is a significant barrier to improving performance, while "the fragility of the adult social care provider market" exacerbates discharge difficulties.

RCSEd President Mr Michael Lavelle-Jones said;

“Tackling delays in discharge from hospital should be seen as one of the top priorities for NHS England. Not only do unnecessarily long stays in hospitals add further pressure to NHS finances, but, more importantly, they also damage the health of patients. Unfortunately, discharge delays are most likely to affect elderly patients, and cuts to Local Authority care budgets are only going to exacerbate the situation.

As such, this report is vital in setting out how far we still have to go. It is clear that we must ensure that the official data captures all the delays a patient might experience, and we must strive for improvements within current budgets whilst arguing against counterproductive cuts. We agree with the report’s conclusion that patients in the NHS have a right to expect better and we shall do all we can as a Royal College to contribute to this important work.”

To access the report please visit www.parliament.uk 

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