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Hospitals need to improve discharge arrangements, says CQC

There is “scope for improvement” for care delivered to hospital patients across England, the Care Quality Commission has noted in the wake of its annual survey on patient experience.

The CQC said hospitals should sharpen up performance in a number of key areas, such as involving patients in their care, the information provided to those receiving treatment and discharge arrangements.

The regulator’s comments come after it published the results of the 2013 adult inpatient survey, a questionnaire of 62,000 patients who have spent at least one night in hospital in England.

“Scope for continued improvement remains”

Sir Mike Richards

The CQC said that previous surveys had identified “information provision” as an area of concern and the latest poll was no exception. One in five (20%) of those surveyed did not believe they had been given the right amount of information on the hospital ward.

However, the figure represents a slight improvement on the previous year when 21% said they had not been given enough detail. And one in 10 said they were not involved as much as they wanted to be with decisions about their treatment and care.

The regulator highlighted patients’ experience of leaving hospital as also requiring improvement. “There is scope to involve patients more in decisions about their discharge from hospital,” the CQC report stated.

“Although 54% ‘definitely’ felt involved – an improvement from 53% in 2012 – this still leaves a large proportion not feeling fully involved.”

In addition, the CQC said that delays to discharge “remain a problem” with 41% saying their return home was delayed.

The document also highlights regional variations between trusts. Key areas of variation surrounded patients being told how to make complaints, whether they received copies of letters sent between consultants and GPs, and whether they had someone from the hospital to talk to about worries and fears.

However, the CQC said that on a national level, people were “more positive” about their hospital stays when compared with the year before.

When patients were asked to rate their overall experience, 71% rated their hospital stay as an eight out of 10 or higher, with 27% giving their overall experience top marks.

Sir Mike Richards

Sir Mike Richards

Professor Sir Mike Richards, the CQC’s chief inspector of hospitals, said: “It is encouraging that the results for many of the questions in the survey show improvements, with areas such as information provision, cleanliness and privacy all performing better than last year.

“However, scope for continued improvement remains, including with how patients are involved in their discharge arrangements.

“I would like NHS trusts to reflect on their survey results to understand what their patients really think about the care and treatment they provide,” he said. “This will help them to identify what they need to change.”

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