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Discharge plans for UK mental health patients need improving

Tuesday 12th December 2017
Over one-third of UK mental health inpatients believe that they are discharged from hospital before they are ready to be, according to a new report. Image credit: Halfpoint via iStock
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More than one-third (38 per cent) of mental health patients in the UK feel that they are discharged from receiving care in hospital too early, a new report reveals.

Research carried out by charity Mind found that 33 per cent of mental health inpatients were given less than 48 hours' notice that they were to be discharged, while 21 per cent were given no notice at all.

As a result, many did not have enough time to ensure they had a support network in place or to prepare themselves for the transition. Some of the 1,000 patients questioned by Mind had spent a month or more in hospital, meaning they needed more time to prepare for their discharge.

Overall, 37 per cent of survey respondents said they were left without a plan for further care, despite this being against recommended guidelines. What's more, just 44 per cent of patients revealed that managing their mental health had been discussed as part of their discharge plan.

Meanwhile, only 51 per cent of those questioned reported that their accommodation needs had been considered, while just 29 per cent had been involved in discussions about their finances or how to access benefits.

With all of this in mind, the charity is urging healthcare providers to take another look at the official guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence that explain how long-term outcomes and future self-care should be discussed with patients throughout their time in hospital. This means that they can be as well-prepared as possible when they are eventually well enough to be discharged.

Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind, commented: "It is shocking that so many people are being sent home from hospital before they feel like they are ready to leave.

"Leaving hospital and coming home can be daunting. You need to feel prepared and confident you will get the support and services you need to help pick up the pieces and continue getting better. Providers must urgently make the improvements needed for everyone in their care."

Written by Angela Newbury

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