Leaving hospital during Covid-19 - our new report

The way people are discharged from hospital across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough should work better for patients says our new report published today.
Elderly man in hospital bed

Leaving hospital during Covid-19, highlights the experiences of 35 patients leaving Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, Peterborough City Hospital and Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Huntingdon between June and August 2020.

And it reveals that some local people did not have the support, equipment and essential information they needed when they got home.

Our Healthwatch recommends changes to the complicated discharge system – which brings together various health and care services.

And now, local hospitals and care services are taking on board the learning from our report to help improve information and support for patients and their families.

In March this year, a new national approach to discharging patients was set up in the wake of coronavirus - aiming to free up hospital beds.

It saw people leave hospital faster by having their ongoing care needs assessed at home.

Our report shows that in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, it worked well for some patients. But for others it has been a poor experience – leaving patients lacking support and equipment.

Read the report

Key findings

  • Around one in five patients were not told they would get support from health or social care after leaving hospital.
  • Nearly two in three people were not given information about who to contact if they needed health advice or support after leaving hospital. 
  • Only one in five people were given information about voluntary sector support which could help them after they left hospital.
  • Three in four people said they definitely felt prepared to leave hospital or felt prepared to leave to some extent.
  • Nearly three in four people discussed where they were being discharged to and went to the place they wanted to go to. 
  • Most people were positive about the care put in place.
  • Just over one in three people said they waited more than 24 hours to be discharged from hospital
  • The main reason for people waiting longer was due to transport arrangements although some people experienced multiple reasons for delay.
  • Some patients felt they did not have suitable equipment for use at home or knew how to use it correctly.

These findings underline other patient feedback we have received highlighting the need for better communication between health and care services and patients and their families.

Our local results also support the findings from Healthwatch England's national report about hospital discharge during the pandemic.

From the responses to our report, I am confident that local authorities and hospital trusts will be taking on board the learning and the experiences shared to improve things for patients and their families.
— Sandie Smith, CEO Healthwatch Cambridgeshire and Peterborough

What we think should happen now

Our Healthwatch has made recommendations on how discharge could work better. And we have shared them with local hospitals, health and care services in our area.

We want services to give patients

  • A simple information sheet including contact numbers for when they get home
  • Clear medication information and instructions that can be given to family/carers, especially if changes have been made at hospital
  • A single point of contact – shared with family/carers - if their health deteriorates or they are unable to cope at home.  This is especially important given the high number of discharges over the weekend when other services are less easily available
  • Written details of voluntary organisations offering local support.

We want hospitals, health and care services to

  • Clarify discharge “pathways” for patients depending on their needs and provide frontline staff with guidance and information
  • Link community pharmacists into post-discharge community assessments
  • Make sure there is enough community support for patients going home
  • Improve access to equipment and supporting information, and ensure adequate volume is commissioned
  • Ensure equipment is suitable for the space within people’s homes.

Our CEO Sandie Smith says ...

“Hospital discharge is complicated because it involves lots of different people, from across different services, to make it happen.

“Inevitably, that means that leaving hospital and getting home does not always run smoothly.

“While we’re pleased to hear that some people have had better experiences during the pandemic than previously, we think steps could be taken to help improve the process for everyone across our area.

“We want to make sure that patients, families and carers have what they need to look after themselves or loved ones – including information about who to contact if their health deteriorates or if they are not able to cope at home."

Have you left hospital recently?

Please share your experiences of local hospitals with us and tell us what’s gone well or what needs improving.

Health and social care services are working hard to care for us all in these difficult times. And the way most services are provided has changed to help keep people safe from Covid-19.

Your ongoing feedback is crucial in helping our local NHS and care services make sure people get the support they need. #BecauseWeAllCare

Share your experience

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