During these unprecedented and changeable times, as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, Healthwatch Stockton-on-Tees has continued to engage with local people in order to find out peoples’ experiences and views of the pandemic and how this has impacted on their lives and their health and wellbeing.
At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic back in March 2020, the NHS urgently needed to free up capacity in hospitals to cope with the anticipated surge in demand from COVID-19 patients. To support this, a new hospital discharge process was introduced nationally.
This focused on getting people out of hospital quickly, to free up 15,000 beds and support the faster movement of patients in and out of hospital. People leaving hospital who may need out-of-hospital support to recover would now have their ongoing support needs assessed after they were discharged (usually in their own home), rather than in hospital.
This ‘Discharge to Assess’ model placed a new responsibility on acute hospital teams to work closely with community health and social care services to ensure people get the support they need after leaving hospital.
The effectiveness of this approach was reviewed by Healthwatch England, who, with support from the British Red Cross, undertook a national survey which resulted in almost 600 people passing comment.
Although this was a national survey, it was heavily promoted by Healthwatch Stockton-on-Tees, and local residents are likely to have contributed to the report findings.
However, we wanted to engage specifically with residents of Stockton-on-Tees to find out for ourselves whether these outcomes were being replicated locally. In addition, we wanted to explore other issues in relation to having been in hospital during the pandemic.
As a result, we designed two specific surveys, one for people who had been in hospital since March 2020, and another for carers or family members.
Responses to the survey were received from ten people who had been in hospital since March 2020.
Family Member/Carer Survey
Responses to this survey were received from five family members/carers of people who had been in hospital since March 2020.
Although take up on the survey locally was fairly limited, the findings very much replicate those contained in the national report from Healthwatch England in collaboration with the British Red Cross.
- 60% of patients locally did not receive information about the new discharge procedure (nationally this figure was 61%).
- 12% of patients who responded felt they were not ready to leave hospital (nationally this figure was 19%).
- 60% of patients who responded said they were not asked if they needed transport upon discharge (nationally this figure was 64% - this figure only applied to discharge at night).
- 80% of patients who responded to our survey did not receive a follow up assessment visit (nationally this figure was 82%).
- 40% of patients told us that they were not provided with information about who they should contact if they needed health information or support (nationally this figure was 34%).
- 60% had to wait over 2 hours after being told they were medically fit for discharge (in line with national figures).