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Who decides when someone should leave hospital

The doctor in charge of a person's care decides when someone is ready to leave hospital - the hospital staff may talk about 'discharging a patient'.
If a doctor says a patient is ready to leave hospital, it means they are satisfied the patient is well enough to leave hospital as long as any necessary help or support continues to be provided.
Need more help? Guidance on what the discharge plan should contain can be found in the Dept of Health's good practice guide "Hospital Discharge Workbook" available from the Department of Health, PO Box 777, London, SE1 6XH, Fax 01623 724524 or from the Health Literature line 0800 555 777.

What the hospital staff should do when a patient leaves hospital

Once a doctor decides a patient can leave hospital, the hospital staff should take special care of those who:

  • Live alone
  • Are frail or elderly
  • Live with an elderly carer
  • Have a serious illness or a continuing disability
  • Have a mental illness
  • Are in need of special help (e.g. they are incontinent)
  • Have communication difficulties (e.g. they have been paralysed by a stroke)
  • Are terminally ill.

This special care involves making proper plans for a patient's departure (this is called a hospital discharge plan
The plan will include information about what needs to be done to ensure a patient is properly cared for after leaving hospital and who is responsible for providing this care.


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Updated April 2015