|This is NOT just a case of inadequate resources|
Patients are being sent home alone, afraid & unable to cope and in some cases without their relatives or carers being told, resulting in devastating consequences, according to a report by the Parliamentary & Health Service Ombudsman. The report highlights cases investigated by the Ombudsman service where people have been discharged from hospital before they are fit to leave or without making sure they can cope on their return home.
Last year the Parliamentary & Health Service Ombudsman saw a 36% increase in discharge related investigations. These found that people’s deaths or suffering could have been prevented if hospitals carried out the right checks before discharging people.
Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman Julie Mellor said: ‘Our investigations have found that some of the most vulnerable patients, including frail and older people, are enduring harrowing ordeals when they leave hospital. ‘Poor planning, coordination and communication between hospital staff and between health and social care services are failing patients, compromising their safety and dignity. ‘Health and social care leaders must work harder to uncover why ten years of guidance to prevent unsafe discharge is not being followed, causing misery and distress for patients, families and carers.’
Editor’s Note: Some years ago my wife’s Aunt (in her late 70s at the time) had to ‘overnight for observation’ after collapsing in the street. Having seen her settled into a ward, we gave the Sister our contact details, so she could phone us in the morning to arrange the discharge. We then went home (about 4 miles away).
Next morning, we were surprised to receive a call from the Aunt at her home. She had been ‘turfed out’ of the bed in the middle of the night (there had been a bad multiple car crash) and sent home to an empty house. At no time were we notified of the discharge – even to give us the option of having her stay the rest of the night with us (my wife is a trained nurse). One phone call could have saved the cost of an ambulance and a potential medical emergency. The hospital gave no reasons for its actions!