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Discharging Older People from Acute Hospitals inquiry


Many older people, each year, find themselves unable to leave hospital, even though their treatment has been completed. This significantly reduces their quality of life and undermines the ability of hospitals to treat more patients and meet testing targets. There are also pressures resulting from emergency readmissions.

Emergency readmissions within 28 days of leaving hospital run at around 15 per cent for people over 65 (2015, King's Fund). In improving support for older people in their homes—either to prevent hospital admission (or readmission) or making discharge easier when the patient is ready to leave hospital, is crucial to manage patient flows in acute hospitals and ultimately to delivering good patient care.

The National Audit Office (NAO) are currently conducting a study to examine whether the health and social care sectors are effectively managing the discharge of older patients from acute hospitals, focusing in particular on whether acute hospitals are minimising the delays throughout the older patient pathway, enabling them to discharge patients as soon as possible. The study will also look at whether local systems are working together to facilitate the efficient and effective discharge of older patients, including considerations of capacity and skills.

The NAO work is also considering whether national assurance, performance management and support arrangements around patient flow and discharging of older patients are providing value for money.