A woman who claims her 91-year-old mother was prematurely discharged from hospital on a public holiday has called for an end to patients being turned out at unsociable hours.
The pensioner was sent home by staff at Lurgan Hospital on July 13, even though her family believed she still needed medical attention. Three weeks later, they claim she is still in need of constant care.
The woman’s daughter, who asked not to be named, contacted the Belfast Telegraph after we reported how patients were being discharged late at night across Northern Ireland.
Some 38 people are sent home between 11pm and 6am every week — in some cases to free up beds on crowded wards.
Although the pensioner was discharged outside these hours, her daughter was unhappy that she was sent home on a public holiday and before she felt ready to leave hospital and has since lodged a formal complaint with the Southern Trust.
“My mother was discharged too early — it seemed they wanted her out,” she told the Belfast Telegraph. “They were going to put her out on July 12, only I was working that day.
“I’m actually a nurse so I knew it wasn’t right.
“She should have [stayed] a bit longer and got more rehabilitation. She can hardly walk and I’m expected to look after her 24/7.”
This newspaper reported how patients are being turned on to the streets at night in growing numbers, even though it is not considered good practice.
One union which represents NHS staff claimed the discharges were motivated by a growing pressure on beds.
A spokesperson for the Southern Trust said: “We are committed to ensuring that people who are medically fit and ready to go home are discharged in a safe and timely way.
“We work closely with patients and their families to agree a suitable day and time for their discharge which is normally before 9pm, except in exceptional circumstances or through patient choice.
“The Trust can also confirm that 13 July is a normal working day for staff and not a public holiday.”
She added that all complaints result in a full investigation.
Story so far
Last week it was reported that 1,970 patients were discharged from hospital between 11pm and 6am in the last year — equivalent to 38 people every week.
That figure has risen by around 25% over the last five years. In 227 cases, the patient concerned was aged 65 or over. Dr Peter Maguire, a consultant anaesthetist at Daisy Hill Hospital and a British Medical Association member, said there were “very few” clinical reasons why a patient should be discharged during the night.