National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE)
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NICE guidance can reduce delays in hospital discharge raised by critical report

NICE urges hospitals and local authorities to redouble their efforts to reduce delays in discharging patients from hospitals, following criticism from MPs.

NICE guidance can reduce delays in hospital discharge raised by critical report

Professor Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive and director of health and social care at NICE, said high quality guidance is available to tackle the problem but needs to be implemented across the country.

It comes after the Public Accounts Committee said that new strategies to reduce the number of patients stuck in hospital, but who are medically fit to leave, are needed.

Elderly patients, in particular, are not able to leave hospital due to community support and social care services not being available to support them at home or in a care home.

Image of Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive and director of health and social care at NICE

Prof Leng said: “It’s important that our guidance and recommendations are implemented and embedded into the culture across health and social care. The message is clear; the focus should always be on the patient.”

The latest survey of hospital bed delays showed that on the last Thursday of May in 2016, there were 6,000 patients stuck in hospital compared to 5,000 from the previous year.

Estimates from the National Audit Office (NAO) amount the cost to the NHS for delayed discharges to be around £800 million a year.

Prof Leng, said: “Our social care guidance, ‘Transition between inpatient hospital settings and community or care home settings for adults with social care needs’, makes recommendations that will help make the move from hospital to home as painless as possible for patients.

“For example, we recommend that one person, either from the hospital or community-based team should be made responsible for a patient’s discharge from hospital.”

Labour MP Meg Hillier, chairwoman of the committee, said: "Studies indicate older people can lose 5% of muscle strength per day of treatment in a hospital bed. Delayed discharge is damaging the health of patients and that of the public purse.

"While there have been improvements, the Department of Health and NHS bodies are still failing to properly address the root causes of this problem.”

The committee said that more needs to be done to bridge the gap between health and social care services, with a lack of integration causing delays, for example when a patient’s information is not shared effectively between services.

The Department of Health has said that more money will be made available for local authorities to address this issue.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health said: "Local authorities will have more money - up to £3.5bn extra - for adult social care by 2019-20 and by 2020 we will be investing an extra £10bn a year so the NHS can introduce its own plan for the future and help fewer people go to hospital in the first place."

 

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