RCP consultation response to PACAC inquiry on unsafe discharge from hospital

The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC) explored key issues raised by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman's (PHSO) A report of investigations into unsafe discharge from hospital, and the actions needed to address those issues.

The PHSO report on unsafe discharge from hospital rightly highlights current obstacles and systematic barriers faced by people waiting to be discharged from acute care settings. This submission focuses on the frontline experiences of the RCP’s 32,000 members and fellows (predominately hospital doctors) of discharging patients. It also further captures learning from the RCP’s Future Hospital Programme’s (FHP) three frontline, clinically led projects which are redesigning the delivery of medical care to achieve safe and timely discharge for patients.

Summary

  • Research conducted by the RCP between 2014-2015 shows that 40% of advertised consultant vacancies remain unfilled, mostly due to a lack of unsuitable candidates[1]. Staff shortages and rota gaps are having a significant impact on doctors’ ability to effectively discharge patients.
  • Prevention of admission should be prioritised to ensure that patients have access to care most suited to their needs. Early access to multidisciplinary assessment has led to a 24% reduction in hospital admissions at the Mid Yorkshire NHS Hospitals Future Hospital project site.
  • Better integration between hospital and community settings is fundamental in preventing patient readmission to hospital.
  • Better use of new forms of communication technology such as telemedicine has lead to faster discharge of patient care and prevention of readmission.
  • IT systems remain a major barrier to transferring patients between care settings. Poor interoperability and variations in coding structures create significant barriers when transferring patients from hospital to community settings.

[1] 2014–15 census (UK consultants and higher specialty trainees)  www.rcplondon.ac.uk/projects/outputs/2014-15-census-uk-consultants-and-higher-specialty-trainees

Contact

For more information please contact Methela Haque, public affairs adviser, by email at methela.haque@rcplondon.ac.uk.