A third of hospital patients classed as ‘frail’ are not receiving the support they need to access care at home, according to a new report from the Care Quality Commission.
The survey, conducted on over 75,000 inpatients across 143 NHS Trusts, found that while most respondents were happy with the care they received in hospital, discharge delays and access to support once home remain a concern.
Responding to the poll, 33% of frail patients said the care and support they expected was not available when they needed it after leaving hospital. This is significantly higher than the 20% of non-frail patients who said this.
The survey also found that just over a third of patients (40%) left hospital without printed or written information telling them what they should do or not do after they leave, up from 33% in 2013.
And, of those who were given medication to take home, 44% were not told about the possible side effects to watch out for.
The majority (80%) of those surveyed said they had discussions with staff about the need for further health and social care services after they had been discharged. However, only 70% of frail people reported having had such discussions.
Of the 41% of people who said that their discharge from hospital was delayed, 89% waited longer than one hour, and over a quarter (26%) said they were delayed for longer than four hours.
Professor Ted Baker, chief inspector of Hospitals at the CQC said that while the survey was carried out before the pandemic spread to the UK, the results provide evidence for the need for integrated health and social care services.
“The recent Covid-19 crisis has highlighted in very stark terms the interdependency of health and social care. This survey demonstrates that where services are not integrated, this can have a detrimental impact on how people experience care,” he added.
The survey found that the majority of people who stayed as an inpatient in hospital were positive about their care, had confidence in the doctors and nurses treating them and felt their fundamental needs were met.
However, respondents were less positive about arrangements and information received when leaving hospital, and access to support and further services once at home.
Meanwhile, the proportion of respondents who said they had to wait a long time before getting a hospital bed has increased since the previous survey – 39% in 2018, up to 42% in 2019.
Baker continued: “I am disappointed to see some people describing a poorer experience in accessing inpatient services in the first place, and further problems when leaving hospital,” he added.
“This year’s results indicate that people are facing longer discharge delays and reveal continued concerns around the quality of information provided when they are ready to return home. It is particularly worrying that for people who self-report as being frail, the difficulties in accessing support after leaving hospital were even greater.
“NHS trusts should reflect on their own survey results to help identify what individual changes they can make to drive improvements, but there is also a wider need for all parts of the health and care system to come together to support staff in managing the gradual return of more routine inpatient services alongside continued Covid-19 demand, and ensure the best quality of care for everyone.”
The survey findings have been shared with providers to review their individual results and take steps to address any areas where improvements are needed.
The CQC said will continue to use the findings as part of its wider monitoring of the quality of hospital services and to plan and target its inspections.