Discharge assurance

HEALTH bosses have moved to assure everyone that the rate of people being discharged from hospital late at night is “good practice”.

Bosses at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust have issued reassurances following concerns that too many patients were being discharged between 11pm and 7am.

In the past 12 months, the trust had 1,322 discharges after 11pm, which is two per cent of around 43,000 discharges, or three to four patients daily.

The trust’s medical director David Emerton told the board meeting that there had been 230,000 people nationally and some national media had said this was due to bed shortages.

It comes after Hartlepool woman Christine Prince, 71, was sent home after treatment at the University Hospital of North Tees, in Stockton, at 5am in nothing more than her dressing gown and slippers.

Mr Emerton said: “We haven’t got any bad practice in our trust.

“I have had assurance from our matrons that no patients are sent home to free up beds at night.

“We have good practice in getting suitable patients home who are medically fit to go home.”

He said the trust’s figure “surprised me initially” but added: “I have been looking into it more and the vast majority of these are either adults or children being seen in ambulatory areas or emergency assessment areas.”

He said there were 492 children sent home after 11pm, which he believed was “good practice”.

Mr Emerton added that many of the adults had either been waiting for test results or given treatment before being sent home.

“We have confidence the vast majority of these discharges are for ambulatory or emergency assessment areas, just 47 patients were sent home from other areas,” he added.