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GPs flag concerns on discharge delays

More than half of GPs have had patients diagnosed with a serious condition without ever receiving a letter from hospital informing them about it.

Pulse's survey found GPs are routinely experiencing severe delays in receiving discharge information, with an average waiting time of eight days for notes to come through, and some GPs waiting for six weeks or longer.

Some 59% of respondents said that on occasion they had never received a letter at all to notify them when a patient had received a serious diagnosis.

GPs said that even when discharge notes did arrive, they often contained confusing information about the nature of treatment and follow-up.

A GP in Surrey said: ‘Administratively [the] hospital is poor with long waits for clinic letters. Patients frequently complain about appointments being rearranged at short notice and increasingly long waits for outpatient appointments.'

A GP in Worcestershire said: ‘Discharge letters [are] not detailed enough and often contradictory regarding follow-up. A patient went into hospital with haematemesis. She said she'd had a three-pint blood transfusion but it isn't mentioned in the discharge letter.'

Dr Andrew Mimnagh, chair of Sefton LMC, said: ‘It is massively important that GPs get good discharge information. We've seen medications changed but GPs not being told.'