Purpose of the study New requirements for hospital clinicians to follow up and act on hospital-initiated investigations were introduced in 2016 in the National Health Service standard contract. We aimed to evaluate the tasks handed over from hospital clinicians to general practitioners (GPs).
Study design A retrospective observation of all tasks in a random sample of electronic discharge summaries at a university teaching hospital over a 1 month period was conducted. A single-best-answer questionnaire was circulated among hospital clinicians over 3 months to gain an understanding of their follow-up and referral practices.
Results The total number of tasks found on discharge summaries (n=178) were 227, of which 39% were directed at GPs and 61% at the hospital team. Of 89 tasks delegated to GPs, 33% were inappropriate. Some tasks on discharge summaries were delegated more frequently to GPs such as blood tests (73%) and endoscopy requests (67%). While others were undertaken more often by hospitals clinicians including imaging requests (88%), follow-up appointments (87%) and onward referrals (71%). Surveyed doctors (n=72) admitted to asking GPs to follow up blood tests (52%), imaging and endoscopy (16%) and make onward referrals for related conditions (14%) and unrelated conditions (70%).
Conclusion The majority of outstanding tasks in the hospital setting were followed up by hospital clinicians. A considerable volume of tasks were delegated to GPs, of which a significant proportion were inappropriate. An increase in awareness and understanding among hospital clinicians of their responsibility to follow up hospital-initiated investigations is needed.
- primary care
- clinical governance
- organisational development
- risk management
Data availability statement
All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as online supplemental information.
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