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Patient rep: Sector can ensure 'dignified' discharge care

Healthwatch UK chair Anna Bradley has praised a project that used community pharmacists to reinforce medicines management among patients who have left hospital

A pilot in which community pharmacists assess discharged patients should be replicated across the country to ensure “dignified care”, Healthwatch UK has said.
The independent patient organisation had gathered “stories” from more than 3,200 patients discharged from hospital and concluded that there was a “lack of support” available to them, it said in a report published last week (July 21).
Patients also experienced “unsafe, delayed or untimely discharge due to a lack of co-ordination between health, social care and community services”, it stressed.
Healthwatch UK chair Anna Bradley told C+D yesterday (July 28) that rolling out the Isle of Wight reablement service was one solution.
According to PSNC's website, the project lauched in 2011 and involved community pharmacists visiting vulnerable discharged patients at home to offer further support and reinforce medicines advice given in hospital. This included conducting medicines use reviews (MURs) and checking the patient's medicines cabinet.

Ms Bradley said the pilot was one example of “especially good practice” and Healthwatch UK wanted to see similar projects “replicated across the system”. “Ensuring medicines management is part of discharge planning will result in a safer experience for thousands of people,” Ms Bradley said.

"Let down by the system"

In its report, Healthwatch UK focused on discharged patients who were elderly, homeless or had mental health issues. It concluded that they were “let down by the system” in five ways, including being excluded from decisions about their post-discharge care and feeling “rushed out of the door” after their time in hospital.
Ms Bradley said poor medicines management resulted in older people taking multiple drugs simultaneously, which could result in adverse reactions and readmission. “The key issue here is the breakdown of communication between patients and clinicians,” she stressed.

Healthwatch also used its report to highlight the work done by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) to use fact sheets and videos to educate patients about managing their medicines when they changed care settings. 

In response to the report, North of Tyne LPC highlighted that it was still “working closely” with Newcastle Hospital Trust on a project to deliver “seamless care” to discharged patients. This involved messages about medicines adherence initially being given by hospital pharmacists and then reinforced in medicines reviews delivered by their community colleagues, the LPC said.

How do you care for discharged patients?

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