Follow-up call to older people post-discharge cuts readmission rates by almost a half

Aston University researchers say the phone conversation could free up ‘thousands of beds’

Aston University researchers say the phone conversation could free up ‘thousands of beds’

Picture: Bubbles

A phone call from a community nurse to older patients after they leave hospital can help to cut readmission rates by almost a half, a study has found.

Researchers at Aston University involved 756 patients at Solihull Hospital in the study, of which 303 were contacted by a community nurse within 48 hours of being discharged.

The phone call included advice on medicines management, and, if necessary, arranged a home visit or referral to a GP or pharmacist.

Reduction in readmittance

Of the 288 older people who were successfully contacted by phone, 202 received a home visit. 

Almost 16% of the older people who did not receive a phone call were readmitted as emergencies within 30 days of leaving hospital. But for those who were contacted and visited, the readmittance figure was only 9%. 

Simple intervention

Aston University senior lecturer in life and health sciences James Brown said: ‘While National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidance recommends that a discharge coordinator should follow-up with people leaving hospital within 24 hours, the rising rates of readmissions, especially for older people, suggest this isn’t happening as a matter of course.

‘This new evidence suggests NHS trusts and community teams could substantially reduce the pressure on their services by using simple interventions, potentially freeing up thousands of beds and cutting the huge costs associated with unplanned hospital stays.’

Financial burden

According to data from NHS Digital, about one in seven people aged 65 and over were readmitted to emergency departments within 30 days of discharge in England in 2017-18, costing the health service around £2.4 billion.

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