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Health & Care Bill: Reducing hospital discharge delays

19 August 2021 | Heledd Wyn

The government has proposed an update to the Health & Care Bill to enable local areas to adopt a process that removes legislative barriers and therefore reducing hospital discharge delays. 

Hospital discharge process 

Since the Care Act 2014, many patients have faced delayed hospital discharge as they waited for long-term health and care needs assessments to be carried out. These delays resulted in poorer outcomes for those individuals, such as loss of independence or functional decline. In addition, the NHS have people occupying beds without clinical need. 

How will the process change? 

The proposed Bill will change the discharge process so that patients won’t have to wait for the assessments whilst still in hospital. This will create flexibility and enable closer collaboration between health and social care systems, resulting in better outcomes for people following their hospital stay.  

It’s important to note that local authorities will still be required to assess and meet people’s needs for adult social care, and that thresholds for NHS Continuing Healthcare funding, funded nursing care or support through the Care Act remain unchanged. 

Expert opinion 

Heledd Wyn, Director and Head of Long-Term & Elderly Care at GL Law, expressed her concerns about the changes: “Whilst we fully support the notion of reducing hospital discharge delays, there is concern that this will simply move the problem to another area, people could be sent home from hospital and then face delays in receiving the assessments and the subsequent care they need.  

As a specialist care solicitor my concern is for those who have more complex care needs and require long term support. Delays of any kind are detrimental to those individuals.” 

Care planning  

There is never a ‘perfect’ time to get personal affairs in order, but it is important to consider the possibility of there being a time when you cannot make those decisions for yourself. No one can plan for accidents and illness, but you can put plans in place to protect your future wealth and health care needs. Legal documents such as Wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney provide peace of mind and ensure your wishes are met even if you are unable to communicate them. 

Specialist legal advice 

If you would like to discuss your situation with a solicitor, please contact our friendly team of experts who can help you with all aspects of later life and care planning. We can also help if you require immediate advice regarding crisis care situations. Call us on 0117 906 9400 or email hello@gl.law  

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.

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