The Care Quality Commission (CQC) says that fragmented health and social care can have serious consequences for patients.
Lack of rehab brings ‘devastating consequences’ for individuals
The England regulator's annual report says the biggest challenge hospital trusts face is maintaining a consistent flow of patients through acute medical and surgical pathways. Follow-on care for people leaving hospital is often not available.
Steve Tolan, head of practice at the CSP, said: ‘Failing to invest in community rehab means progress made in hospital can stall – and even reverse – after discharge.
‘This can bring not only further costs and pressures for the system but, more importantly, devastating consequences for the individual.
‘We must stop overlooking quality rehabilitation in the community in order to relieve the strain on the NHS and support more people to lead independent, active lives after leaving hospital.’
The CQC says an unannounced inspection of one NHS acute trust found that 195 people were waiting to be discharged to physiotherapy, or placement into nursing homes or rehabilitation wards.
Of these, 88 were listed for discharge but with no indication of what their next step might be. There was no overall monitoring of planned discharge dates to help prevent extended and unnecessary hospital stays.
Delays in transfers of care have increased substantially over the past three years, the CQC says.
Keeping patients in hospital longer than required can have a number of detrimental effects. Long stays can affect patient morale and mobility. The report says research suggests a wait of seven days is associated with a 10 per cent decline in muscle strength.
Where the CQC saw joined-up care, local health and care leaders were collaborating to engage staff, patients and others to respond to the challenges they faced.
‘Collaboration needs to happen not just between sectors, but between local agencies and care professionals too,’ the report says.
‘This needs to happen with more consistency and urgency, and national leaders need to support this.’
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