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This document sets out for staff across the Trust and other partner agencies what is required to ensure effective discharge planning. It includes an outline of the roles and responsibilities of the multi-disciplinary/multi-agency team, key principles fundamental to effective discharge, and the range of factors that need to be considered with patients and carers during the discharge pathway.

It outlines all matters pertaining to the process of patient discharge and follows guidance in “Discharge from Hospital: Pathway, Process and Practice” DH Jan 03, “Achieving Timely Simple Discharge from Hospital” DH Aug 04 as well as key legislation including Community Care (Delayed Discharges etc) Act 2003 and the Mental Capacity Act 2005. This policy operates alongside the Trust’s Standard Discharge Framework to ensure effective integrated multi-disciplinary and multi-agency team working. The standards outlined in this policy should be adhered to regardless of the nature of the discharge being planned or time of day or the borough/county to which the patient is being discharged.



Discharge planning is a process and not an isolated event. This process therefore needs to be planned at the earliest opportunity and actively managed 7 days a week. It also needs to fully involve patients, relatives and carers. Appropriate, timely discharge planning is fundamental to the provision of effective health care. Poor discharge planning leads to inefficient use of beds, increases in waiting times/costs, higher re-admission rates, increased dependency for the patient, carer breakdown as well as increased workloads, risk of hospital acquired infection, for Acute Trust and our colleagues in the community and social care.


Achieving Positive Outcomes

This policy makes clear to staff what is required during the discharge process and the principles that need to underpin day to day practice. It provides a reference for staff of all agencies so that they might understand both their individual and team’s responsibilities. It will ensure that there is a clear and consistent process in place for dealing with discharge thus ensuring a positive outcome for both patients and carers. Furthermore it will ensure that the Trust meets all its legal responsibilities and conforms to the relevant NHS LA Risk Management standards.


Policy Details

Download: PDF version
Compiled by: Juliet Rayner
Ratified by: Chairman's action, Chief Nurse for NMC
Date Ratified: July 2013
Date Issued: July 2013
Review Date: July 2016
Target Audience: All staff
Contact name: Juliet Rayner


See also:

  • Trust Standard Discharge Framework for Referral and Procedures including additional interagency information.
  • Transfer Policy
  • Paediatric Discharge Policy
  • Medicines Management Policy & Policy and procedure for nurse checking and issuing of discharge medication
  • Guidelines for using Interpreting services
  • Learning Disability Policy
  • Safeguarding Adults Policy