Hospital discharge and its impact on patient flow through hospitals



Good patient flow improves the quality of care for patients, but a number of factors are likely to be causing delayed transfers of care, including capacity issues within the social care system, meaning that some patients who are ready for discharge remain in hospital. This has detrimental impacts on both the individual, and the flow of patients through the hospital, contributing to pressure on A&E departments and ambulance services.


During the Sixth Senedd, the Health and Social Care Committee plans to explore how patient flow through hospitals can be improved.


The first part of this work was a short inquiry focusing on hospital discharge and its impact on patient flow through hospitals.


On 15 June 2022, the Health and Social Care Committee published its report, which includes recommendations to the Welsh Government. The Welsh Government responded on 28 July 2022. The Senedd debated the Committee’s report and the Welsh Government’s response on 12 October 2022.


Information about the Committee’s inquiry


The Committee’s inquiry considered, in particular:


  • the scale of the current situation with delayed transfers of care from hospital.
  • the impact of delays in hospital discharge, both on the individual and the patient flow through hospitals and service pressures.
  • the variations in hospital discharge practices throughout Wales and cross-border, and how they are meeting the care and support needs of individuals.
  • the main pressure points and barriers to discharging hospital patients with care and support needs, including social care services capacity.
  • the support, help and advice that is in place for family and unpaid carers during the process.
  • what has worked in Wales, and other parts of the UK, in supporting hospital discharge and improved patient flow, and identifying the common features.
  • what is needed to enable people to return home at the right time, with the right care and support in place, including access to reablement services and consideration of housing needs.





To explore these issues, the Committee:



>>>Issued a written call for evidence between 8 November 2021 and 7 January 2022. We received 45 responses.

>>>Held oral evidence sessions with key stakeholders on 27 January 2022, 10 February 2022, 14 February 2022 and 10 March 2022.

>>>Held an oral evidence session with the Minister for Health and Social Services and Deputy Minister for Social Services on 24 March 2022.

>>>Published a report and accompanying media release on 15 June 2022.

>>>Held a plenary debate on its report on 12 October 2022.


Business type: Committee Inquiry

Reason considered: Senedd Business;

First published: 11/11/2021