Hospital Dr News

Inpatients are facing ‘longer delays and receive poorer information when discharged’

Inpatients are reporting an increase in lengthy delays, greater dissatisfaction with the amount of information provided when leaving hospital, and a lack of involvement in their care.

These are the worrying findings of the CQC’s latest inpatient survey, which shows that 48% rated their overall hospital inpatient experience as ‘nine or above’ out of ten – down from 50% in 2017.

The results of the 2018 Inpatient Survey, involving 144 NHS acute trusts in England, reveal what over 75,000 adults who had stayed in hospital for at least one night during July last year said about the care they received.

Most respondents (80%) felt they had “always” been treated with dignity and respect during their hospital stay (82% in 2017) and only 2% said they were not given enough privacy when being examined (unchanged since 2017).

Of those who had an operation while in hospital, 80% said that staff answered their questions in a way they could understand “completely”. While this remains high, it has dropped slightly from 81% who said this in 2017.

More than two thirds of those surveyed (69%) said they “always” had confidence in the decisions made about their condition or treatment, a decrease from 71% in 2017.

Just over a third (40%) of patients surveyed left hospital without written information telling them how to look after themselves after discharge (up from 38% in 2017), and of those who were given medication to take home, 44% were not told about the possible side effects to watch out for.

Only 15% of respondents said that they had been asked to give their views on the quality of care received during their stay, compared to 20% in 2017, and around half (54%) felt they were definitely involved as much as they wanted to be in decisions about their care and treatment, down from 56% in 2017.

Of those surveyed, 39% said they had to wait a long time before getting a bed (16% “definitely”, and 23 % “to some extent”). The proportion of those satisfied with the time they had to wait has decreased since last year (63% in 2017, down to 61% in 2018).

Of the 41% of people who said that their discharge from hospital was delayed, over a quarter (26%) said they were delayed for longer than four hours. This is up from 24% in 2017.

Professor Ted Baker, Chief Inspector of Hospitals, said: “I am disappointed to see the overall lack of progress this year and that in some cases people are reporting poorer experiences, particularly around the quality of information when they were discharged and the integration of their care from different parts of the system.

“Last year’s survey showed a healthcare system still delivering improvements despite growing pressure. But this year, the improvement trend we have seen for the past six years has not been sustained.”

Dan Wellings, Senior Fellow at The King’s Fund, commented: “Patients tell us time and time again that being treated with dignity and respect is the most important thing they expect from the NHS, so the decline in the number of people saying they experienced this, albeit still at relatively high levels, should ring alarm bells.

“There is also significant work to do around the process of leaving hospital and preparing people for what happens next. Four out of 10 people were not given any written information about what they should do next and a similar number weren’t told about danger signs to watch for. Nearly a quarter said they did not get enough support from health and social care professionals to manage their health conditions after leaving hospital. “

Read the full report.

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