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Being discharged from hospital

Each hospital has its own discharge policy. You should be able to get a copy from the ward manager or the hospital's Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS).

Once you're admitted to hospital, your treatment plan, including details for discharge or transfer, will be developed and discussed with you.

A discharge assessment will determine whether you need more care after you leave hospital.

You should be fully involved in the assessment process. With your permission, family or carers will also be kept informed and given the opportunity to contribute.

If you need help putting your views across, an independent advocate may be able to help.

Find out about getting back to normal after an operation

Minimal and complex discharge

If the discharge assessment shows you'll need little or no care, it's called a minimal discharge.

If you need more specialised care after leaving hospital, your discharge or transfer procedure is referred to as a complex discharge.

If you need this type of care, you'll receive a care plan detailing your health and social care needs.

You should be fully involved in this process.

A care plan should include:

  • details of the treatment and support you'll get when discharged
  • who will be responsible for providing support and how to contact them
  • when and how often support will be provided
  • how the support will be monitored and reviewed
  • the name of the person co-ordinating the care plan
  • who to contact if there's an emergency or things do not work as they should
  • information about any charges that will need to be paid (if applicable)

Find out more about care and support plans

You'll also 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.


If you're given any medicine to take home, you'll usually be given enough for the following 7 days. The letter to your GP will include information about your medicine.

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 2 working days (48 hours) notice for repeat prescriptions.

If you're registered for patient online services with your GP, you could order your repeat prescription through the NHS website. Simply look up the GP practice using find services.

Find out more about health and prescription services

Your local pharmacy can help you get on top of your new medicines.

Simply arrange a chat and ask for help with newly prescribed medicines.

Medical devices

If you're sent home with a medical device, make sure you know how to set it up and have been taught how to use it.

Also, make sure you know where to get any supplies you need to use the device and who to call if you need help.

Organising transport

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

Returning home

If you're returning home, make sure you have everything you need for your recovery.

It may be helpful to ask a friend or relative to stay with you or visit regularly.

If this is not possible, make sure you have plenty of food, drink and other essentials at home.

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.

Find out when you may need a fit note


Do not forget to:

  • provide a forwarding address for any post
  • collect your hospital discharge letter for your GP or arrange to have it sent directly to them
  • ensure you have the medicine you need
  • get a copy of your care plan (if applicable) – if you're being discharged to a care home, the home should be told the date and time of your discharge, and have a copy of the care plan
  • arrange your follow-up appointment, if you need one
  • ask for any medical certificates you may need

Feedback and complaints

Talk to hospital staff if you're unhappy about your suggested discharge or transfer date.

You have the right to discharge yourself from hospital at any time during your stay in hospital.

If you want to complain about how a hospital discharge was handled, speak to the staff involved to see if the problem can be resolved informally.

Alternatively, speak to a PALS member at the hospital. PALS offers confidential advice, support and information on health-related matters.

Find your local PALS

You could contact an NHS Complaints Advocacy service. Your local council will be able to tell you who the local advocacy provider is.

GOV.UK: find your local council

If you wish to raise a formal complaint, follow the NHS complaints procedure.

You can also rate or review a hospital. Simply find the hospital you wish to comment on and leave an overall star rating or post a review for other patients to read.

Page last reviewed: 6 April 2023
Next review due: 6 April 2026