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|We have ‘known’ about the problem for decades, but little ever seems to be achieved
A Public Accounts Committee report challenges the Government to address the scale & cost of delays in discharging older patients from hospital. The Committee's report urges new measures to tackle discharge delays, which are bad for both patients' health and the financial sustainability of the NHS & local government.
The Committee finds there is a poor understanding of the scale of discharge problems, with official data substantially under-estimating the range of delays and the number of older patients affected.
There is unacceptable variation in local performance on discharging such patients, says the Committee, finding that while good discharge practice is well understood, "implementation is patchy across local areas". It concludes poor sharing of patient information is a significant barrier to improving performance, while "the fragility of the adult social care provider market" exacerbates discharge difficulties.
While it recognises there is pressure on funding, the Committee does not accept this necessarily blocks efforts to make further improvements and urges a greater commitment to step up the pace of change. It concludes: "NHS England shows a striking poverty of ambition in believing that holding delays to the current inflated level would be a satisfactory achievement."