The truth about leaving NHS hospitalsWhich? research shows half of you have problems

01 November 2010

Lady on hospital bed

You'd expect to be on the road to recovery when you leave hospital, but a Which? survey of 1,851 NHS inpatients and carers shows that - while the majority rated leaving hospital positively overall - more than half had specific problems.

The most common problem is poor timing, reported by 31% of patients and carers, but poor communication can jepoardise safety and affected a quarter of those surveyed. One carer told Which? that her mother suffered pressure sores, and was left hungry, thirsty and without medication in a waiting room for eight hours.

A patient leaving hospital also impacts on the friends and relatives supporting them, and six out of ten carers reported the person they care for had problems. A carer told Which?: 'I had to manage the wheelchair, walking frame, toilet seat and bags alone while pushing my mother. I asked for help, but was told they do not provide it.'

Good practice needed

Which? would like to see hospitals following simple guidelines, including:

  • Keeping patients and carers up to date
  • Having a discharge plan and clear, consistent communication from staff
  • Providing systems that look after the patient until they leave, even if they wait away from the ward, with efficient arrangements for medication and transport

In response to Which?'s research, a spokesperson at the Department of Health said: 'While this survey shows that most NHS patients report a positive experience, others did not. This is not good enough. The government's white paper will help the NHS improve health outcomes.'

Proactive patients

If you or someone you know is going to be in hospital, make sure you get a good hospital discharge by:

  • asking for a copy of the hospital's discharge policy
  • informing hospital staff if you need transport home arranged
  • making sure you have a copy of you discharge letter and summary, and that it is accurate. (This will also be sent to your GP.)

Find out more about staying in hospital, preparing for your hospital stay and get involved with our hospital car parking campaign.

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