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GP practices still receive illegible hospital discharge summaries

GP practices are still receiving illegible paper discharge summaries from hospitals, a Welsh NHS inspection body has warned.

Health Inspectorate Wales (HIW) said in an annual report on the state of general practice in Wales that some practices were ‘reporting that they receive paper discharge summaries’ which were ‘often illegible and cannot be acted on until practice staff have been able to clarify their meaning’.

Some practices said the more frequent use of electronic summaries had improved the situation somewhat.

The independent healthcare inspector visited 27 practices over the last year and was on the whole positive, particularly about GP staff, saying that ’in every practice we visited we saw staff treating patients with dignity, respect, compassion and kindness’.

But the body also expressed concern about ‘how resilient and sustainable some of the practices we visited were’, due to the current pressures on GPs including ‘difficulties in recruiting GPs, the high volume of patients and continued increased demand for the service’.

Dr Charlotte Jones, chair of the Welsh GPC, said it was ‘a concern that the report highlighted the inconsistency in information provided to GPs when patients are discharged from hospital’.

She said: ‘This not only increases the already stretched workload of GPs but also hinders the provision of quality care.‘

She added: ‘The report highlights some of the ongoing challenges faced by GPs, including increased demand for services, appointment availability and GP vacancies.

‘GPs across Wales are dedicated but cannot continue to work under this pressure and deliver the best standard of care to their patients.’

It comes as 20 Welsh GP practices handed their contract back in the last year, including five that closed.

Pulse reported this week that health bosses in Wales are launching a major international and national recruitment campaign to attract more GPs to live and work in Wales, including English GPs.