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RCP Cymru Wales calls for a review of COVID-19 discharge guidance in Wales

The RCP in Wales has called for better communication between hospitals, local authorities and front line staff, following senior doctors’ concerns that the system is reaching capacity.

As hospital admissions continue to rise, Dr Olwen Williams, the Royal College of Physicians’ vice president for Wales said:

‘The situation on the ground remains challenging. Hospital beds are filling up quickly. More than 85% of hospitalised patients with COVID-19 are under the care of physicians, and our members tell us that it is becoming increasingly difficult to get patients back home once they are clinically well. Worried about the spread of infection, some authorities are insisting that patients isolate in hospital for up to two weeks after they are well enough to go home.

'Nobody wants to repeat the mistakes of the first wave, but the longer patients stay in hospital, the bigger the risk of falls, depression and hospital-acquired infections. Instead of keeping patients in hospital to isolate, if they have a negative COVID-19 test result, they could be discharged to isolate in their own home, a care home, or perhaps even a step-down facility in one of the 17 Welsh field hospitals. These could provide a 'safe space' with rehabilitation services for people recovering from coronavirus.

'We need better communication between health boards, local authorities and front line staff. It’s so difficult to balance risk, especially in such challenging and stressful times. But we need to be kinder to each other across all parts of the health and care system and work together to find solutions that put the patient first.

'Everybody should be on the same page about how we manage patient flow between hospitals and the community. Yes, we need the freedom to develop local approaches, but we also need clearer national guidance that works across the whole health and care system.'