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Two thirds of GPs don’t get necessary information after discharge


17 February 2016

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Two days after a patient is discharged from hospital, just a third of UK GPs have the information they need to manage the patient, health experts revealed in a report released today.

The report, Under Pressure, analyses what the Commonwealth Fund’s 2015 international survey of general practitioners means for the UK.

Two days after a patient is discharged from hospital, just a third of UK GPs have the information they need to manage the patient, health experts revealed in a report released today.

The report, Under Pressure, analyses what the Commonwealth Fund’s 2015 international survey of general practitioners means for the UK.

In the 2012 Commonwealth Fund survey, 46% of UK GPs felt that the system worked well and only minor changes were needed. By 2015 this had collapsed to 22%, the biggest decline of any of the countries featured in the survey, and only higher than the US and Sweden.

The survey of 11 countries found that, in terms of GPs receiving timely information after a discharge, just a third (34%) said it takes 48 hours or less after discharging a patient to receive from the hospital the information needed to continue managing the patient.

However, this is an improvement since the 2012 Commonwealth Fund survey, when only one in five (21%) GPs in the UK received timely information from the hospital after discharge.

Furthermore, the UK performs relatively strongly in terms of communication between GPs and acute providers, consistently rating in the top half of the 11 countries featured in the survey, and “significantly better” than Sweden or Australia.

Communication also seems to be a problem for GPs and other sectors, as seven out of 10 UK GPs found it very difficult or somewhat difficult to coordinate their patients’ care with social services or community providers. This is the highest of any country featured in the survey.

Moreover, 74% of GPs in Switzerland find this coordination easy or very easy.

However, “above all, the survey highlights the interrelated nature of the challenges facing GPs,” the report states.  “To excel internationally, the UK urgently needs strategies, which take into account and seek to address the multiple interwoven factors at work in primary care.”

These four interwoven factors are short appointments, external bureaucracy, variation in electronic medical records (EMRs) use, and poor coordination with community services, it stated.

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