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Vulnerable patients are being discharged from hospital unsafely and sent home to situations where they have inadequate support because of lack of coordination between health, social care, and community services, an investigation by the healthcare consumer organisation Healthwatch England has found.
The investigation was based on the experiences of discharge of 3230 people considered as vulnerable (elderly people, homeless people, and people with mental health conditions) and on information gathered from trusts through freedom of information legislation and from surveys of patients.
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Healthwatch England has called for national change to the process of discharging people from health and care settings, following a special inquiry which has underscored the human and financial cost of poor and unsafe discharges from health services.
With more than one million emergency readmissions within 30 days of discharge in 2012/13 alone, costing an estimated £2.4 billion, the organisation said on Tuesday that the time has come for “concerted action and coordinated national leadership to ensure the discharge process meets people’s needs.”
This report indicates that more than 70% of homeless people are being discharged from hospital back onto the streets, damaging their health and costing the NHS money. It found that NHS staff can improve health outcomes for homeless people and save the NHS money by ensuring all patients have somewhere appropriate to stay when they are discharged from hospital.