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GPs call for Government action on poor discharge data

By Gareth Iacobucci

More than half of GPs have seen patients put at risk because of hospitals' failure to provide accurate information following discharge, a new survey has found.

A survey by the NHS Alliance has revealed that clinical care and patient safety in relation to discharges have both deteriorated over the past three years.

90% of practices surveyed said clinical care had been compromised in the past three years because discharge information was late, incomplete, or both, with 77% saying patient safety has been compromised.

Only half of GPs said the information provided to them is complete and accurate, while a third said they now get summaries within 48 hours of discharge.

But a third of those surveyed did highlight some improvement since April 2009 following the introduction of new standards by the Department of Health.

Just over a quarter of GPs (27%) said they were more confident their PCT is taking action, but more than half say they did not know.

Dr Michael Dixon, chair of the NHS Alliance chair said: ‘The Department of Health responded swiftly when we found that discharge information was being delayed, often by weeks or months. Now one in three GPs are getting discharge summaries within 48 hours.

‘Punctuality is essential, but it is not sufficient. We have found that critical information about medicines and diagnostic tests is missing or inaccurate. That can put patients at risk and lead to avoidable re-admission to hospital.

‘We are now calling on the Department to take action again to ensure hospitals understand that providing medical information to their patients GPs is a vital part of their role.'

GPs call for Government action on poor discharge data