The discharge summary target
Almost 50% of GPs are not receiving discharge summaries from acute trusts in time for them to be useful, according to the Care Quality Commission’s report on the state of care in England.
In its first annual report, the care regulator found that only 53% of GPs reported receiving discharge summaries in a timely fashion, while 81% said that the details they contain about patients’ medication were incomplete or inaccurate “all” or “most” of the time.
The government has set a target for all trusts to be sending discharge summaries to GPs within 24 hours of discharge by April this year. However, the target is predicted to be missed by a substantial majority of trusts.
The CQC said “a considerable minority of GPs” were also failing to provide enough information to hospitals on referral. It found that some practices (14%) did not provide information on patients with multiple conditions, allergies (11%) or previous drug reactions (23%).
The CQC said that 11 out of 12 primary care trusts that it visited, with varying characteristics, also had little or no reliable information on whether GPs were sending hospitals the correct information at the right time.
The care regulator said that it also found information governance standards “patchy” and that some trusts have inadequate standards for collecting and analysing data and rely on information “that is of poor quality and not well timed”.
The CQC said its visits found that health and social care staff supported the sharing of information but there were technical and cultural barriers that were preventing it happening.
The CQC’s report said the next big challenge for health and social care was to accelerate efforts to make services more joined up and focused on people’s needs. It also called for investment in services that maintain people’s independence and keep people out of hospital.
The CQC estimated that £2 billion could be saved from hospital budgets if each area was able to reduce the number of admissions and length of stay to match the best performing area in England.
Dame Jo Williams, the CQC’s interim chair, said overall there had been steady improvement in care but that trends such as increasing demand and rising expectations would be exacerbated by pressure on finances.
She added: “That means we cannot go on as we are. To cope, we need some radical changes in the way that we organise and deliver services.
“This means shifting the culture away from a one-size-fits-all approach to care that puts the needs of individuals and carers at the centre of everything. A key part of this will involve helping people maintain their independence and health.”
The CQC said that from April it would introduce new standards which it said would help to form the foundations for the shift towards joined-up, person-centred care.