Discharge in disarray

Wigan Infirmary
Wigan Infirmary

AN investigation into the discharge of older people from Wigan’s hospitals has exposed serious failings.

The survey carried out by the Wigan Borough LINK group makes disturbing reading.

Errors range from a patient waiting 12 hours for a prescription or being left without transport to much more serious failings of a terminally ill cancer patient waiting more than five weeks for aftercare from cancer specialists to being discharged as a mobile orthopaedic patient instead of a disabled terminally ill man.

The survey examined problems centred around medication, transport and information given to in-patients when they are discharged. The LINKs finding are based on a discharge questionnaire which was sent out to people over 60 years old who had been an in-patient of the Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust (WWL FT) within the last 12 month, or their relative or carer.

There were responses from 57 people and of that number 80 per cent of experiences were good overall but the report concluded the remaining 20 per cent of people have suffered ‘overall systems failures’.

The report made four main recommendations for WWL FT to consider and from that numerous changes have been put in place, including the creation of a leaflet that details patient information, including discharge transportation and points of contact for ongoing support.

For patients with complex discharge needs meetings are now held which include carers or family members, who can then be involved in the discharge process and a pilot scheme was held in A&E to assess patients discharge needs at the time they are admitted to hospital.

And a new policy has also been introduced not to dispense repeat medication to patients who have been in hospital for less than 24 hours, in a bid to reduce the waiting time of discharge prescriptions.