Hospital patients are being sent home before receiving Covid test results

Wednesday, 28th October 2020, 1:14 pm
Updated Wednesday, 28th October 2020, 1:15 pm

Hospital patients in England are being sent home before being given the results of their Covid-19 tesst, a health watchdog has warned.

Concerns about patients being discharged early have been raised, following a new investigation conducted by Healthwatch England and the British Red Cross.

30% of patients did not receive test results

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The investigation found 30 per cent of patients who were tested for Covid-19 while in hospital did not receive the results of their test before they were discharged, according to a poll of 500 patients and carers.

The poll also found that 82 per cent of did not receive a follow-up visit and assessment at home after leaving the hospital. Of these, 18 per cent had some form of unmet need.

Some patients told researchers that they did not feel ready to leave hospital, while 35 per cent said they were not given a contact for further advice.

Improvements needed

Health experts have said more needs to be done to improve hospital discharges as Covid infection rates continue to climb, alongside the traditional pressures posed by winter.

Healthwatch England and the British Red Cross have now made a number of recommendations to help manage hospital discharges amid the second peak of the pandemic.

Suggestions include:

Post-discharge check-ins and assessmentsDischarge checklistsGiving patients a single point of contact for further support.

A National Audit Office report published earlier this year highlighted how, between mid-March and mid-April, patients were discharged quickly from hospitals and sometimes placed in care homes without being tested for Covid-19.

Healthwatch England notes that, while hospitals were asked to discharge patients “with little or no notice” back in March, health services and leaders have now had more time to prepare. A better handling of hospital discharges can help to reduce the risk to patients, as well as improve their aftercare.

British Red Cross chief executive, Mike Adamson, said, “The Red Cross has been bearing witness to these issues for years and we hope that the increased urgency of the situation will bring lasting change.

“Many of the people we support are older or more vulnerable and fall into the higher-risk categories for Covid-19.

“Simple interventions, like getting equipment and medicine delivered, or follow-up visits can make the difference between good recovery or someone regressing to the point of readmission - precisely at the time we want people to stay well and stay at home.”