We welcome this Report, which will help to inform our current plans for further improvement to hospital discharge arrangements.  We recognise the hard work of Healthwatch Gloucestershire in producing this document and their on-going support in efforts to improve outcomes for patients.

The Health and Social Care Community has a collective responsibility to work positively together in the interests of the patient and this is what we are doing. We are pleased that Healthwatch has acknowledged the enormous efforts that are being made in every part of the system to make it work and to continue to improve it.

It is important to stress that the vast majority of patients benefit from timely and appropriate transfer from hospital with support from dedicated staff, either to home or to another care setting to help them regain their independence.

That said, every patient deserves the best possible service and we recognise that currently some people do experience a delay in leaving hospital for a variety of reasons, particularly at very busy times of the year.

That is why together as a Health and Social Care community, we have been taking further steps to strengthen arrangements. These include:

  • Additional investment in the Integrated Discharge Team. The team of nurses and social workers make sure everything is in place for patients to leave hospital in a safe and timely way. This includes closely managing every individual’s discharge plan
  • Increased support in the community – strengthening Integrated Health and Social Care Community Teams and the Rapid Response service – making sure there is the right local support in place to get patients back home when appropriate with the right kind of care
  • Increased access to reablement and domiciliary (home) care staff – aiding recovery and providing ongoing support at home if needed
  • Investment in the Care Home Select Service to support transfer to nursing homes – helping patients and families who need nursing home care to navigate their way through the system.

We are also looking closely at the recommendations made by Healthwatch Gloucestershire, including those relating to patient experience standards, support at home and information provision.

We are committed to reviewing and learning from the experiences of individual patients and this will continue to influence the actions we take.

Clinical Chair of NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, Dr Helen Miler said:

“This Report illustrates the challenge for the whole health and social care community and as caring organisations we believe strongly that every patient counts.

Often, there is talk of the volume or the number of patients, but the fantastic health and social care professionals who work on the wards, in the community and in the patient’s home, are striving to make things better for everyone they care for. We will continue to do everything we can to support them in their important work and to support joined up care and communication across health and social care.”

Chief Executive of Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Dr Frank Harsent said:

“Safe, timely discharges that are convenient for patients and their families or carers are a high priority for our Trust and something we are able to achieve for our patients in the vast majority of cases. However, we are constantly striving to make our services better for every patient and we welcome the findings of this report in helping us to identify those areas where we can improve.”

Chief Executive of Gloucestershire Care Services NHS Trust, Paul Jennings said:

“Trust colleagues will continue to support people to live in their own homes safely and with dignity – this particularly applies for those who have been discharged from hospitals. We welcome the publication of this report and were pleased to see the acknowledgement of all the work that has been done. We support the recommendations, which we believe will continue to guide Gloucestershire Care Services and other organisations with their ongoing discharge activities.”

Cabinet member for long term care at Gloucestershire County Council, Cllr Dorcas Binns said:

“Importantly, the report highlights the positive steps being taken by all partners to improve support for people who are leaving hospital – whilst recognising that we all have a part to play in building on this to improve patient care.

“Whenever possible we want to help people live more independent lives – focussing on supporting people to stay in their own homes – which is where they want to be. This is where our efforts will continue to be focussed.”