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Healthwatch Surrey comments on Hospital Discharge story for local media

A lack of NHS and social care in the community is the most common cause of people having to stay in hospital longer than they need to. It’s a problem that contributed to over 1,000 days of delay in Surrey in the last 12 months alone and it’s a problem that has a seriously negative impact on people’s health and wellbeing.

Much is said and written about people “bed blocking”. A term which is often used to talk about patients and families who take some time to choose a care home or to move home permanently or to put other arrangements in place keep themselves safe and well.

The reality, though, is these situations contribute to a minority of delays. We regularly hear from people experiencing delays for many other reasons, including medications not being ready on time.

Leaders of the NHS and social care in Surrey need to continue to focus on issues originating within the health and care system before putting additional pressure on people at a highly complex and stressful time.

We know that when we talk to people about hospital services, the process of leaving hospital is the most negative aspect of their experience. However, delays in leaving hospital are only a part of the story. 

We hear about people being discharged too soon, who then have to return to hospital. We hear about people who are not properly signposted to on-going support to manage their conditions. In a more extreme example, we heard how a frail older person was sent home without keys to get into their home.

Whilst there are plans to integrate and improve services, it’s time that this issue is put front and centre by the leaders of our local health and care system.