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Don Lavoie is alcohol programme manager at Public Health England and Gul Root is lead pharmacist, Health and Wellbeing Directorate, Public Health England
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logo Healthwatch EnglandJuly 22 2015

A report into hospital discharge procedures has flagged up concerns over medication records not being forwarded to primary care health professionals.

Views from over 3,000 people in England have been analysed by Healthwatch England, the national consumer champion in health and care. It found that one in three of the 120 hospital trusts that responded to its survey do not ensure notes about new medication are properly recorded and passed on to GPs or carers.

A survey of over 100 pharmacists also found that “a breakdown in communication and confusion can lead to older people taking multiple drugs simultaneously after discharge, which can result in adverse drug reactions, medication errors and re-admission.”

The report, ‘Safely Home’ comments: “This lack of seemingly simple provision is putting people at significant risk.”

Its findings focus on the experiences of older people, homeless people, and people with mental health conditions, “three groups for whom the consequences of a failed discharge process were particularly detrimental.” The report mentions that “some older people told us they were left confused about the new medicines they had been prescribed, and weren’t told how it might fit with their existing medicine.”

NICE is working on guidelines regarding transitions between hospitals and other settings. Professor Gillian Leng, Deputy Chief Executive of NICE, commented: “We welcome the new report from Healthwatch England on vulnerable groups and their experiences of the hospital discharge process. This is an important report, highlighting the missed opportunities to provide the support that patients need after hospital discharge.

“NICE is currently consultation on its draft health and social care guideline to help manage the complicated needs of adults being admitted to and discharged from hospital who are receiving or need support from social care.

“A quality standard setting out the actions that signal effective, safe, high quality hospital discharge planning will be published following the final guideline. Both documents should then be used to improve discharge safety in the future. In the meantime, we encourage everyone with views on how to improve hospital discharge to take part in our consultation which runs until August 6.”

Healthwatch has been working with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society which said that the ‘Safely Home’ findings show that patients frequently return to hospital with complications caused by poorly co-ordinated care.

The RPS has run a project with a network of Trusts and care settings to help identify how the core principles and responsibilities in professional guidance could be incorporated into local practice. Each group developed improvement measures and reviewed experience of implementation after six months and produced individual summary reports which the RPS has collated and published.

In addition, it says the RPS Innovators Forum has prioritised the development of a referral system to improve medicines safety for patients being transferred between care settings with the aim of supporting relationships between secondary and primary care to improve patient care.

Links:

Healthwatch announcement    

Healthwatch report - ‘Safely home: What happens when people leave hospital and care settings?’    

RPS comment    

NICE comment    

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