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Tories pledge to slash hospital readmissions


More than 500,000 patients are readmitted to hospital every year soon after being allowed home, figures obtained by the Conservatives show.

The number of patients readmitted as emergencies within 28 days of being discharged rose from 359,719 in 1998-99 to 546,354 in 2007-08, according to the data.

Elderly patients made up a large proportion of those affected - with 159,134 over the age of 75 readmitted in 2007-08, compared with 94,283 in 1998-99.

The Conservative Party said the figures suggest patients are routinely being released before they are well enough.

Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley said a Conservative government would change NHS rules to stop hospitals being paid again for treating patients they had recently discharged.

He said: “I will ensure that through our payment for results approach, hospitals have to meet any costs arising from emergency readmissions themselves.”

A Department of Health spokesman said: “Patients are only discharged from hospital if the clinicians involved consider it safe and in their best interests.

“Some patients might require readmission if their health deteriorates, but the numbers are small. Only about 5 per cent of patients discharged from hospital are readmitted within seven days of their discharge.

“Rates of readmission can also be a sign of better care. More people with long term conditions are being offered the choice of being treated in the community, with readmission only if the condition worsens.

“A sequence of readmissions can often be preferable to a longer stay in hospital. Treatment in the community is what many people want.”


Readers' comments (4)

  • Who are these 'bleep' that make these statements.No wonder politicians are looked down upon.Patients are not discharged without consideration! or is the 'government' forcing early discharge for the sake of targets?

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  • I think we all realise that targets are an issue, but so is the pressure on beds. Certain patients are earmarked for an earlier discharge when the pressure on beds hits a crisis point, which seems to be often these days. It would be interesting to know if this group of patients make up a significant number of the patients being readmitted.

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  • Part of the problem lies with chronic underfunding of support services in the community, which should ensure that people who are discharged from hospital have the medical, practical and emotional support that they need. Social care requires a serious injection of funding if the merry-go-round of hospital discharge and readmission is to be avoided.

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  • What a wild statement the Tories make !!! Ignorance is bliss. They have no concept of chronic disease processes or terminal illness and their advisors are totally inadequate in their knowledge of the real world.
    That aside - in relation to the comment of more resources for the community - I think not - there have been millions pumped in here and used for what?- better use of resources directed at the patient in their home is what is needed here

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