Better handovers

There are currently about two million medical admissions to NHS hospitals each year. A handover happens when a patient is moved to another ward or when the medical or nursing team briefs the incoming shift about progress and what needs to be done.

It is important that the handover conveys all the necessary information about the patient, including plans for tests, treatment and discharge, so that the patient is cared for most effectively. Each patient will have at least four handovers each day. Research has shown that unfortunately handovers sometimes give incomplete information. Improving handovers will improve care and save significant costs for the NHS.

There are various methods to improve handovers: staff training, use of technology, checklists, protocols and patient/carer participation. There is not enough research evidence to establish which methods are most effective or the full impact of IT solutions. One essential research tool that is missing is a definitive way to measure the quality of clinical handovers: that is the focus of this project.

The project is now at the phase of conducting a Delphi survey with healthcare professionals.