• communication systems;
  • hospital discharge;
  • patient counselling;
  • pharmaceutical care;
  • seamless care

Aim: To identify the services that hospital pharmacies were providing in 1999 to facilitate seamless care upon patient discharge.

Design: Postal questionnaire containing closed and open questions.

Subjects and setting: U.K. Trust hospitals. Questionnaire addressed to Chief Pharmacists to be completed by themselves or most appropriate deputy, then returned anonymously in prepaid envelope.

Results: The response rate was 73·4% (163/222). 71·2% of responses came from general hospitals and 23·3% from teaching hospitals. Junior medical staff members were responsible for preparing virtually all discharge prescriptions, which were checked against the ward prescription chart by pharmacists in three-quarters of U.K. Trusts. Hospitals used a wide variety of methods to communicate information about medicine regimens to GPs. There was also wide variation in the provision of discharge counselling, telephone ‘help-lines’ and clear medication records to patients. Few hospitals involved community pharmacies routinely in the discharge process.

Conclusion: There is still wide variation within hospital pharmacy practice in meeting the medicines-related needs of patients at discharge.