Alarm at hospital report

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COUNCILLORS have called for immediate improvements after a report found “alarming” examples of treatment of patients on their discharge from hospital.

People across the borough are being sent home with insufficient information and poor follow-up aftercare.

Patients also complained of having to attend understaffed meetings to discuss treatment after leaving hospital with nurses who did not know individual cases, and of enduring long waits for medication before being able to go home.

The report, compiled by Health and Care Together, part of the Wigan Borough Local Involvement Network (LINk) found the planning and monitoring of the discharge process required improvement, and systems needed developing so patient information did not need repeating numerous times.

The report also committed Health and Care Together to reviewing the arrangements for dispensing medication.

Councillors on the Adult Health and Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee called the report’s findings “alarming” and demanded immediate improvements.

In a survey conducted in 2010 by Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Foundation Trust (WWLFT), problems with medication was identified as the worst aspect of being discharged from hospital for people aged over 60, followed by difficulties with transport and the feeling of being rushed out of hospital.

In response, WWLFT has already begun to improve the discharge process by tightening up the system to ensure all information on patient aftercare and referrals is sent through to GPs.

The Trust has also introduced support workers into hospital wards to gather information and assess people, which it is hoped will free up social workers to spend more time helping patients with the most complex needs.

The report’s authors says feedback already suggests this has made a significant contribution to improving patient satisfaction with the service, suggesting it makes aftercare and discharge more focused and prevents patients feeling they are being moved from pillar to post.

Councillors said the level of aftercare the report had exposed was unacceptable and demanded to know how the service had been allowed to get into such a state.

Coun Eddie Russon said: “I want to know why the discharge was so poor, and why there seems to be a lack of accountability, which there has to be in any successful organisation.

“We need to find out exactly what percentage of discharges were not satisfactory in our hospitals, and the reasons why.

“Some of the examples contained in this report are really very concerning and the report as a whole was quite alarming.”