Patients at risk from nursing home discharge scheme, GPs warn

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A controversial scheme to discharge hospital patients into nursing home beds could be putting them at risk, GPs have warned.

But those in charge of the scheme said that patient safety was their ‘number one priority’.

There should be no patient in the community where it isn’t clear who should be medically responsible for them, whether low risk or high risk

GP Bruce Allan

Despite warnings by GPs, healthcare bosses have decided to continue with West Sussex County Council’s project, which allows doctors to discharge patients into beds in nursing homes with GPs overseeing their care, thereby freeing up hospital spaces.

At a meeting of Coastal West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group, where the decision was made, GP Bruce Allan from Worthing Medical Group said that some patients were discharged with no notes or care plans, making it impossible to look after them properly.

He said: “There should be no patient in the community where it isn’t clear who should be medically responsible for them, whether low risk or high risk.”

Dr Tim Kimber from the Park Surgery in Littlehampton echoed these concerns, and added: “It feels like there is a high degree of uncertainty associated with this scheme.”

Littlehampton Town Councillor Derrick Chester was at the meeting where the scheme was discussed.

He said: “It is absolutely imperative that the concerns raised by GPs about the safety of this scheme are addressed immediately. Sending ill patients without notes or a care plan into a a bed in a home when it is not clear who is responsible for them must not happen, ever.”

In a joint statement, West Sussex County Council and the commissioning group said: “We are committed to ensuring the highest quality health care services for our population, as are all our GPs and the different organisations we work with.

“This is a new pilot that has been developed and delivered in partnership with health and social care and is a good example of joined up working. It enables patients to receive additional support so they can leave hospital earlier – this is something that patients tell us is very important to them.

“As with any new service, it’s important that we test it properly to ensure that it runs as effectively as possible. This includes listening to the views of our GPs and any concerns that they have.

“We want to reassure people that the safety and quality of all health services provided to our communities is our number one priority.”

The scheme is being looked into closely by the commissioning group, and another decision will be made in the New Year.

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