Hospitals: Discharges

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered on 4th November 2020.

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Photo of Derek Twigg Derek Twigg Labour, Halton

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent steps he has taken to reduce the time taken to discharge elderly and vulnerable people from hospital to care homes and the community.

Photo of Helen Whately Helen Whately Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)

It is our priority to ensure that everyone receives the right care, in the right place, at the right time. On 19 March, as part of our response to COVID-19, we published the ‘COVID-19: hospital discharge service requirements’. This guidance set out how we would continue to support the safe and timely discharge of people who no longer need to stay in hospital, using the ‘Discharge to Assess (D2A) model. This guidance was updated on 21 August.

People who are clinically ready are supported to return to their place of residence, where an assessment of longer-term needs takes place. For individuals whose needs are too great to return to their own home, suitable in-patient or residential care is arranged.

The exception to this is where a patient is discharged from hospital following a recent positive test for COVID-19. In this case, as set out in our Winter Plan, published on 18 September, we are implementing a designation scheme with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) for premises that are safe for people leaving hospital who have tested positive for COVID-19.

People who are being discharged from hospitals to care homes must be tested for COVID-19 and should have their test result before they leave the hospital. If their test result is negative, they will be able to transfer directly from hospital to a care home. If their test is positive, they will only be able to transfer from hospital to an ‘assured’ premises. There will be a limited number of exceptions to this policy, to ensure that people are not prevented from accessing the care they need.

We made £1.3 billion funding available via the National Health Service to support the discharge process in March. As part of the £3 billion new funding announced for winter in July, an extra £588 million has been confirmed to continue enhanced discharge arrangements over winter.

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