‘No pay for poor discharge detail’

The NHS Alliance has challenged the DoH to force hospitals to improve their discharge information to GPs.

The challenge follows the publication of what is believed to be the largest survey of discharge information to over 650 GP prac-tices that revealed ‘an institution-alised contempt for primary care’.

Late, inaccurate and incomplete discharge information is compromising clinical care, the NHS Alliance survey revealed.

The NHS Alliance has called for Payment by Results to be dependent on full, timely and accurate discharge information.

The NHS Alliance called on the DoH to ensure that the ‘prompt provision of all essential discharge information is required through commissioning contracts’.

Dr Vijay Bathla, professional executive committee chairman of Heart of Birmingham PCT, and a Birmingham GP, said: ‘Hospitals should be forced to comply with a set of minimum standards.’

The DoH said standards are best agreed locally rather than setting a new target nationally.

Worcestershire PCT wrote quality standards into commissioning contracts including a two-day turn round for summaries and a three-week limit for hospital letters.

The PCT found that for 45 per cent of patients no hospital letter was received. But the DoH said PCTs do not have the power to withhold payment in relation to these types of quality indicators.

‘Ministers specifically decided not to have financial deductions for quality indicators for this year,’ a spokesman said.

‘Next year’s contract has not been fixed,’ she added.

NHS Alliance chairman Dr Michael Dixon said: ‘This wide-spread problem reveals an institutionalised, though unconscious, contempt for primary care.’

Fifty-eight per cent of GPs told the NHS Alliance that discharge information arrived too late.

Information such as the patient’s name, diagnosis, treat-ment and medication was some-times missing.

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