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Being discharged from hospital

Each hospital will have its own policy and arrangements for discharging patients. Normally, when you arrive in hospital, the professionals in charge of your care will develop a plan for your treatment, including your discharge or transfer. This is usually done within 24 hours of your arrival.

You will be able to discuss arrangements for your discharge with staff. This will help to ensure that you have everything you need for a full recovery when you return home.

Your discharge or transfer date will be affected by:

  • how quickly your health improves while you are in hospital
  • what support you will need after you return home

If you are unhappy about your suggested discharge or transfer date, raise your concerns with the hospital staff. During your stay in hospital you have the right to discharge yourself from hospital at any time.

When you leave hospital you will be given a letter for your GP, providing information about your treatment and future care needs. Give this letter to your GP as soon as possible.  

Minimal discharge

Most people who are discharged from hospital need only a small amount of care after they leave. This is called 'minimal discharge'

Complex discharge

If you need more specialised care after you leave hospital, your discharge or transfer procedure is referred to as a 'complex discharge'. For example, you may:

  • have ongoing health and social care needs
  • need community care services
  • need intermediate care
  • be discharged to a residential home or care home

As well as hospital staff, your discharge or transfer may involve other healthcare professionals, such as your GP or a community nurse. Organisations outside the NHS may also be involved. For example, local authorities or independent and voluntary organisations.


If you are given any medication to take home, you will usually be given enough for the following seven days. You will also be given a letter to give to your GP, which includes information about your medication.

If you need to keep taking your medication, make sure you arrange to get a repeat prescription from your GP before your hospital supply runs out. Some surgeries require up to 48 hours’ working-day notice for repeat prescriptions.  

Medical devices

If you are sent home with a medical device, check that you know how to set it up at home and have had any training or instructions you need to use it. Also, make sure you know where to get any supplies you may need to use the device and who to call if you need help with it.

Organising transport

If you are being discharged, arrange for a relative or friend to collect you. Let the staff know if they need to make other transport arrangements for you. 

Returning home

If you are returning home, make sure you have everything you need for your recovery. It may be helpful to get a friend or relative to stay with you or visit you regularly.

If this can’t be arranged, make sure that you have plenty of food, drinks and other essential items in your home, including basic painkillers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen. Buy food that is easy to prepare, such as frozen ready meals, cans of soup or beans, and staples, such as rice and pasta.  

Sick notes

You may need a sick note or information for insurance companies or your employer. Speak to the nurse in charge of your ward if you need a form to be completed.  


Remember to do the following before you leave hospital:

  • Provide a forwarding address for any post.
  • Make sure you have collected your hospital discharge letter for your GP. Or have it sent directly to your GP in the post, by fax or by email.
  • Make sure you have the medication you need.
  • Make a follow-up appointment if you need one.
  • Ask the nurse in charge of your ward for any medical certificates you may need.
  • Collect any cash and valuables you may have handed in for safekeeping.
  • Check that you have all your belongings.


The 3 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

hormones 56 said on 19 February 2015

I had day case surgery on sunday 8th march, this surgery was only minimal Metatarsal osteotomy and pip fusion, .
I was well looked after prior to theatre and post op.

My main concern is the lack of information given to me on discharge, i was told by ward sister that i would receive a letter in the post to have sutures removed in 14 days, to date 18/2/15 i have had no letter, my wound has not been checked at all.

I rang the hospital only to be told that there was no discharge summary done for me so the question is well when can i come and have sutures removed.

I was given an appt for 25/2/15 so thats great but i think that it is a long time for sutures to be in situ .
However i will attend and see what happens then .

My complaint is that if i had not have phoned them i would still be waiting for an appointment .

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rt456gt said on 30 October 2014

My mother has recently had two stays at Dorset County Hospital and has been diagnosed with Follicular Lymphoma. The first time she was discharged too early and suffered atrocious diarrhea at home, being readmitted the next day by ambulance and through A&E. She was discharged yesterday but it still felt rushed and it seemed to be more about needing the beds and not catching superbugs than dealing with the patient's individual needs.

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Ali Langroodi said on 12 September 2014

This is a great website, where invaluable professional advice can be obtained without the waste of time for the professional involved.

However, I recommend no FAQ page to be created, as they are too general and people like me would loose interest and in most cases forget about their concern - which may or may not result in injury, if not death.

My reading started with Hernia, then discharge - but there is not link to find out how much weight a 60 year old can pick up.

My discharge not only refers not to do too much heavy weights, or low lifting.

This is my third hernia and I would not like to have another, because it would cost NHS, not to mention my own time/costs, if not life.

Thank you.

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