The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) issued a report on unsafe hospital discharges in September 2016. The report is a follow-up of the May 2016 PHSO report on the most serious unsafe hospital discharge cases from 2014/15.
The new report’s conclusion is that the incidence of unsafe discharge from NHS hospitals is too high. Factors exposed in the report include:
+ The wholesale incompatibility between healthcare and social care funding
+ The inadequate funding of social care
+ Better Care Funding (for integrating healthcare and social care services) is not freely available as it is reliant on savings from the New Homes Bonus
+ Failure to involve carers and relatives in decisions to discharge patients
+ Night discharges are potentially dangerous
+ The relationship between early discharge and readmission
+ Variations in discharge procedures across England
+ Problems of delays in discharging older people
+ The Government’s policy and vision for comprehensive integration of healthcare and social care services is as yet unsupported by H.M.Treasury fiscal plans.
Perhaps the establishment of the Discharge Programme Board and the new Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch will help. However it’s clear to me that local heroic efforts alone will not of themselves eliminate unsafe hospital discharges. New Government funding policy and new Government funding are urgently needed.