Delayed hospital discharges

Since 1997, there have been a wide range of policies and initiatives designed to reduce the number of people (particularly older people) who experience delayed discharges from hospital.  These include an inquiry by the House of Commons Health Committee, substantial extra investment in intermediate care services, the creation of a Change Agent Team to spread good practice and legislation to impose fines on social services departments for contributing to delayed hospital discharges (a measure known as reimbursement).  In spite of these measures, there is a large and longstanding body of literature which suggests that hospital discharge is a problematic area of policy and practice, sometimes characterised by:

  • Poor communication between hospital and community
  • Lack of assessment and planning for discharge
  • Inadequate notice of discharge
  • Inadequate consultation with patients and their carers.
  • Over-reliance on informal support and lack of (or slow) statutory service provision
  • Inattention to the special needs of vulnerable groups such as frail older people

Against this background, this review of the literature summarises findings from studies published since 1993 which focus on the rate and causes of delayed hospital discharges for older people in the UK.


Full report Show me the way to go home: delayed hospital discharges and older people (pdf; opens in new window)

Date: 2004
Researchers: Jon Glasby, Rosemary Littlechild and Kathryn Price