The government has agreed to a Healthwatch England request to start publishing figures on how many discharged hospital patients are readmitted as emergency cases.
Healthwatch England – which collates public and patient feedback from local Healthwatch, including our organisation in Reading – had been campaigning on this issue after its own research found a 23% increase over the past five in the number of people needing to return to hospital within 30 days. Readmissions can be a sign that people left hospital too early, or did not have proper care or monitoring back at home to help them recover.
In a letter to Healthwatch England dated 20 March 2018, Health Minister Steve Barclay agreed that publishing emergency re-admissions data – which had not been done since 2012 – was “important to explore”. The Department of Health was now working with NHS England on getting a single definition agreed, to include in the NHS Outcomes Framework in the future.
Jane Mordue, chair of Healthwatch England, said: “A concerted effort over the last year has seen progress on reducing the number of people stuck in hospital waiting to leave, but we need to make sure people are still being discharged safely. By keeping a closer eye on the numbers of people returning to hospital unexpectedly, the NHS and council run care services can identify where things aren’t going to plan.”