Hartlepool hospital bosses face questions about elderly patients discharged at night

North Tees Hospital. D19284
North Tees Hospital. D19284

Council chiefs have asked hospital managers to respond to concerns around patients being discharged at night.

Members of Healthwatch Hartlepool told Hartlepool Borough Council members had received reports of some elderly patients being released from hospital in the early hours of the morning.

The town group, which champions the causes of patients, produced a number of recommendations to make the discharge process smoother after an in-depth study in 2014.

Many have been taken on board in an action plan which the council’s Adult Services Committee receives regular updates on.

One recommendation was that North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust should not discharge anyone after 5pm.

Councillor Stephen Thomas, who also works for Healthwatch Hartlepool, said: “The trust did not accept that particular recommendation and said it always worked to ensure appropriate discharge.

“I think quite clearly at the moment this is not happening, and I think we need to write to the trust asking for clarification on its policy.”

Representatives from the trust are due to attend a meeting of the Adult Services Committee next Monday.

In a statement to the Mail, Julie Parkes, associate director of out of hospital care, said: “In some cases it may be appropriate for a patient to be discharged during the night from accident and emergency.

“Often, patients who could be discharged are those whose attendance at A&E could potentially have been avoided in the first place.

“In other cases, patients can be discharged from A&E who are safe to be so and no longer need to be in our care.

“We would always admit a patient if it was not appropriate to discharge.

“We work very closely with social services departments to ensure patients are discharged when they are declared fit to leave our care.

“It is about ensuring that patients receive the right kind of care at the right time and making sure patients are discharged when ready.”