Delays in hospital discharges and problems for patients who are discharged without the right support are putting pressure on hospitals ahead of the winter.
A special inquiry by patients’ group Healthwatch England , ‘Safely Home’, showed that getting the discharge process right was fraught with problems; many people were kept in hospital longer than necessary because the support they would need at home was not available, while others were sent home without the right support and some had to be readmitted as an emergency.
The problems are particularly acute for elderly people, those with mental health problems and homeless people, but they affect a wide range of patients, some with very complex needs. The report details cases ranging from one elderly woman being delivered to her home in her nightie late at night with no one to care for her to a man with suicidal tendencies who was sent home with no support; he killed himself the following week.
A recent audit by the NHS showed that while only five per cent of people aged over 65 who are admitted to hospital, stay for more than 21 days, that five per cent accounts for more than 40 per cent of all bed days. About 15 per cent of the over-65s discharged from hospital are readmitted within the following 28 days.
Inez Brown, Partner at Medical Accident Group, said: “It is all too easy for hospitals and local authorities to blame the other party, leaving patients in the middle of this situation, struggling to cope with their own or their loved one’s difficulties. Most people want to go back to their own homes as soon as they can, but they need to feel safe to do so; care needs to be seamless and the current situation falls a long way short of that.”
If you or a loved one have been let down by the hospital discharge process, Medical Accident Group can help. Our experienced and sympathetic team, whose knowledge of clinical negligence and personal injury law is extensive, can support you through the process of making a claim and seeking justice. We can advise on issues from brain injury or birth injury to surgical and medical errors and accidents at work. Call us free on 0800 050 1668.