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NICE issues new guidance on discharging patients

Monday 20th June 2016
UK doctors have been issued with new guidance on discharging patients from hospital. Image: shironosov via iStock
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UK hospital doctors have been issued with new guidance on discharging patients.

This is in light of a new report revealing that many older people are kept in hospital unnecessarily, when their needs may be better suited to a residential home.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has published updated guidance to make sure people are not staying in hospital any longer than they need to, and are discharged at the right time to a setting that is right for them. This could be a care home, or their own home, depending on their needs.

NICE has issued this new advice following the revelation that delays in discharging older people from hospital are costing the NHS in the region of £820 million each year. This is because patients are often discharged when they are not safe to leave hospital, meaning they need to be readmitted, which costs the health service in terms of both money and resources.

However, by reassessing discharge procedures, it is believed that the NHS would have to invest £160 million in providing more social and community support to patients - significantly less than it is currently wasting due to delayed discharges.

What's more, new analysis from the National Audit Office found that around 2.7 million hospital bed days are lost every year due to older patients who are ready for discharge needlessly continuing to take up space due to delays - something that could compromise the health of patients who have a greater need for their beds.

Professor Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive and director of health and social care at NICE, commented: "Whilst we understand the pressures facing our health and social care system, our guidance aims to improve the situation that some older patients are finding themselves in.

"Moving people to more appropriate community or care home settings will ensure that a patient's wellbeing is being looked after - particularly if they are older and more vulnerable - as well as help reduce the cost burden on the NHS for hospital bed days."

Written by James Puckle

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