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New NHS discharge guidance risks patients' health

16 September 2020

The NHS’s updated process for discharging patients from hospital raises significant concerns, reports the Patients’ Association.

The process risks patients being sent home before they are fully ready and without taking their views about their condition into account. It also enables the NHS to place considerable expectations on family members to deliver care and support.

Patients’ Association Chief Executive Rachel Power, said: “This guidance makes it clear that the NHS is still having to take drastic emergency action in the face of COVID-19, that will continue to take a heavy toll on patients. It is clear that many patients will be rushed home who would normally have had a longer period of hospital care.

“The guidance is clinically-driven and places no weight on patients’ views. It says that hospitals should discuss options with patients using new leaflets – but these leaflets state, as their starting point, that the clinical team has already made the decision to discharge. To the limited extent that shared decision-making was ever a reality in the NHS, it appears that it has now been completely binned.”

DR UK’s Head of Policy Fazilet Hadi said: “We have heard too often that disabled people’s care has been left to friends and family during the pandemic. We share the concerns of Carers UK and the Patients’ Association about the lack of inclusion of patient voice in this guidance.”