NHS overnight hospital discharges to be examined
Published: 12th Apr 2012 01:40:04
The government is investigating after figures emerged suggesting that hospital patients in England have been discharged overnight to free up beds.
The Times newspaper discovered, via Freedom of Information requests, that 100 NHS trusts sent 239,233 patients home last year between 23:00 and 06:00.
NHS Medical director Prof Sir Bruce Keogh said people should only be sent home when it was appropriate and safe.
The paper had contacted 170 NHS trusts in England but only 100 responded.
However, the rates of those discharged varied widely between different hospitals.
The paper reported that some 3.5% of all hospital discharges took place between those hours and this rate had steadily held for the past five years.
It is simply not fair to be sending people home late at night. ”
If the remaining 70 trusts discharged their patients at similar rates, this would add up to 400,000 such discharges a year and almost 8,000 a week, the paper added.
Derby Hospitals Foundation Trust sent 8.7% of its patients home overnight but the trust told the Times there may have been a problem with its records.
Others with rates above 7% include the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust in Birmingham and Countess of Chester and University Hospitals of Leicester trusts.
Newcastle Hospitals Foundation Trust and Southend University Hospital Foundation Trust both said they did not discharge patients during the night-time.
One trust, which did not want to be identified, told the BBC that some of its patients had been in assessment units for further checks after being brought in as emergencies - and they were allowed home because they hadn't been formally admitted as in-patients.
The Times does state that the data is variable and while some hospitals admitted to keeping detailed records, others said they could not guarantee the accuracy of the figures as details were not necessarily recorded accurately.
The paper also adds that some hospitals categorise deaths as "discharges" while others dot.
Prof Sir Bruce said: "I am concerned to hear that some patients may be being discharged unnecessarily late.
"Patients should only be discharged when it's clinically appropriate, safe and convenient for them and their families.
"It is simply not fair to be sending people home late at night. We will look at this."
The Patients Association reported that it had received regular calls from people who had been sent home from hospital without any warning late at night.
The organisation's chief executive Katherine Murphy said the situation was unacceptable, the Times reported.
Are you affected by this story? Have you been discharged from hospital overnight? Please share your experiences by filling in the form below.
If you are happy to be contacted by a BBC journalist please leave a telephone number that we can contact you on. In some cases a selection of your comments will be published, displaying your name as you provide it and location, unless you state otherwise. Your contact details will never be published. When sending us pictures, video or eyewitness accounts at no time should you endanger yourself or others, take any unnecessary risks or infringe any laws. Please ensure you have read the terms and conditions.
Terms and conditions
At 12:56:39 in SportDidcot shooter Dan Rivers says he is "excited" to have been named in England's Commonwealth games squad for this summer's event in Glasgow.
At 12:56:00 in SportDavid Moyes has thanked Sir Alex Ferguson for giving him the chance to manage Manchester United.
At 12:55:30 in EnglandThe brother of a man killed in a helicopter crash spoke of his family's "five years of heartache" as he called for the operator to be prosecuted.
At 12:52:13 in Northern IrelandAn independent elections watchdog has warned there is only two weeks left for voters to register to be eligible to vote in the local government and European elections on 22 May.
At 12:51:49 in SportLaunceston assistant coach and former captain Tom Rawlings is leaving the club after criticising the process for appointing a new coaching team.
At 12:50:55 in SportJason Quigley has announced he is turning professional - six months after becoming the first Irishman to reach a final at the World Championships.
At 12:49:39 in HeadlinesEx-News of the World chief Andy Coulson has said he did not "cover anything up" following the arrest of the paper's royal editor Clive Goodman in 2006.
At 12:45:42 in ScotlandParents of babies whose ashes were disposed of without their knowledge have said they were "stunned" to learn a report into the scandal was handed over last week.
At 12:44:32 in WalesSupporters of gay marriage should be patient if they want the blessing of the Church in Wales, its archbishop has said.
At 12:43:19 in BusinessNearly two-thirds of people have never switched energy supplier, according to a survey for the energy regulator, Ofgem.
Harvard CitationBBC News, 2012. NHS overnight hospital discharges to be examined [Online] (Updated 12th Apr 2012)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/1421856/NHS-overnight-hospital-discharges-to-be-examined [Accessed 23rd Apr 2014]
News In Other Categories
Nearly two-thirds of people have never switched energy supplier, according to a survey for the energy regulator, Ofgem.
The Hull Truck theatre has received £400,000 in emergency grants to help it out of financial crisis.
The brother of a man killed in a helicopter crash spoke of his family's "five years of heartache" as he called for the operator to be prosecuted.
A plan by the New York Police Department to use Twitter to boost its image seems to have backfired.
Parents of babies whose ashes were disposed of without their knowledge have said they were "stunned" to learn a report into the scandal was handed over last week.
Eight major renewable energy projects, expected to support 8,500 jobs, have been given government approval.