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Thousands of frail and elderly NHS patients sent home at night

An analysis of recent figures has revealed that thousands of frail and elderly patients are being sent home from hospital late at night or in the early hours of the morning.

What were the findings?

The figures show that over 150,000 patients, including 18,500 over 75-year-olds, were sent home from hospital between the hours of 11pm and 6am over the past year.

There have also been concerns that dementia patients are often being sent back to their care homes late at night, during hours where medical staff are unable to notify the homes if there have been any changes in care.

In one case, Michael Atkinson, who had suffered from a stroke, was discharged from the Royal Bolton Hospital at 3.30am. The 64-year-old was later found in a cricket field, in freezing temperatures, and in a very confused state.

The hospital claims that Mr Atkinson left before transport could be arranged, but is investigating the reason why he was discharged at such an hour.

What can be done?

Campaigners say that many of these late-dismissals are due to the pressure placed on hospitals to free up beds for urgent A&E cases.

Chairman of the Patients Association, Dr Mike smith, said:

“They have people in A&E lying in corridors, they have got to
be admitted and they have no beds.

“It’s for the convenience of staff and the person they are admitted but
at the gross detriment to the person they are chucking out.”

Though senior doctors have questioned some of the findings, NHS England has labelled the practice unacceptable, and said that patients should be discharged only if they want to go home and it is safe for them to do so.

A spokesman for NHS England said:

“Discharging patients at night without appropriate support is
unacceptable, particularly if a patient is vulnerable.

“Where a patient wishes to leave late at night it should be accommodated
only where it is clinically appropriate and with the
support of family, friends or carers.”

If you, or a loved one, have been affected by medical negligence, and you would like expert advice, contact the Hampson Hughes Solicitors Medical Negligence Team today on 0151 242 1025 or email

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