New guidance on hospital discharge

Topics covered: Anna Maria Lemmer, COVID-19, government, mental capacity, NHS

On 21 August 2020, the Government published guidance, ‘Hospital discharge service: policy and operating model’. The guidance sets out how health and care systems should support the safe and timely discharge of people who no longer need to stay in hospital. The guidance replaces ‘Coronavirus (COVID-19) hospital discharge service requirements’ which was published on 19 March 2020.

This document sets out how health and care systems can ensure that people:

  • are discharged safely from hospital to the most appropriate place
  • continue to receive the care and support they need after they leave hospital

There is a section in the guidance in relation to mental capacity which is of particular significance. It states: If there is a reason to believe a person may lack the relevant mental capacity to make the decisions about their ongoing care and treatment, a capacity assessment should be carried out before decision about their discharge is made. Where the person is assessed to lack the relevant mental capacity and a decision needs to be made, then there should be a best interest decision made for their ongoing care in line with the usual processes. If the proposed arrangements amount to a deprivation of liberty, Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards in care homes and orders from the Court of Protection for community arrangements still apply. Further information can be found within DHSC’s guidance on this specific area.”

A copy of the latest guidance can be accessed here.


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