British hospitals 'discharging thousands of patients at night'

16 April 2012

People who are seeking healthcare at hospitals across the UK could be met with an unwelcome surprise when they are discharged during the night.

Data obtained by The Times following Freedom of Information requests revealed that more than 400,000 patients are told to leave their hospital beds during 11pm and 6am each year.

Such a figure was worked out after 239,233 late-night discharges were recorded in the past year from 100 of the 170 NHS hospital trusts which agreed to supply statistics to the research.

As such, 3.5 per cent of all NHS hospital discharges are recorded late at night on an annual basis.

While some of the dismissals are understandable – such as for alcohol-related admissions and cleared emergencies - Sir Bruce Keogh, medical director of the NHS, believes measures should be taken before a discharge is agreed.

"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," he advised.

Meanwhile, a BBC survey recently highlighted that just 12 per cent of family doctors believe that a proposed shake-up of the NHS system will have positive results.

Posted by Jeanette Royston

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