Doctors' Warning: Misperception Over Hospital Admissions May Harm Health Policy
25 April 2012
The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh (RCPE) has today written to all MSPs regarding a damaging misperception which it believes is emerging in Scotland about the number of patients unnecessarily admitted to hospital.
The RCPE is concerned that political misunderstanding is emerging regarding the number of patients currently admitted to and treated in hospital “unnecessarily”. It is concerned that this could result in premature shifts in policy, as evidenced by the ongoing reduction in beds in acute units in Scottish hospitals, and potentially dangerous planning to transfer resources away from the hospital sector with no comparable services available elsewhere for patients to be treated.
In particular, the RCPE has challenged false assumptions, inconsistent data and the lack of evidence behind two unproven principles which it believes have become generally accepted – that care of patients outwith hospital settings will be at least as safe and effective as hospital care and that it will provide better value of money.
In its briefing, ‘Inappropriate admissions to hospital: myth versus reality”, the RCPE highlights a range of evidence from independent, highly respected organisations including –
Dr Neil Dewhurst, President of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh (RCPE), said,
“The RCPE supports shifting care closer to home, but never at the expense of safety or quality. While we support the aspiration to reduce what may be perceived as the unnecessary hospitalisation of, in particular, older people, there is limited evidence regarding the effectiveness and safety of other alternatives at this time.
“Patient safety must not be compromised and large-scale widespread pilots are needed to examine the potential of any strategies to move acute services into the community prior to wider implementation. There must be clear established evidence that care of patients outwith hospitals will be as safe and effective as hospital care, as well as better value for money.”