Commenting on the National Audit Office report ‘Discharging older patients from hospital‘, Dr Mark Holland, president of Society for Acute Medicine (SAM), said:
“This report will hopefully raise public awareness of an issue which, left unsolved, promises to totally destabilise the NHS.
“More importantly, people need to start to join up the dots. Every month we hear there are a record number of delays in our A&E departments.
“While there is clearly a rising demand for acute medical care, we also need to be able to discharge patients safely from hospital and in a timely fashion. If we can make beds available then we can clear our A&Es and stop cancelling routine admissions.
“We know the majority of patients with a delayed discharge are older people and we know that if they stay in hospital they are at increased risk of infection and physical decline.
“Patients are individuals and, while some need ongoing hospital care, many can be discharged to their own home or a non-hospital setting safely.
“We need to ensure that, wherever possible, this happens because, in the majority of cases, it is in a patient’s best interests – but we need the resources and processes to make the discharge process work.
“In his five-year plan, Simon Stevens very rightly identified joining up health and social care – a view I share without reservation – and the time to embed this new paradigm of care has now arrived.
“It is not an unreasonable aspiration to have a health service where our hospitals run efficiently and, at the same time, deliver the very best care.”