500 patients sent home late at night

SCARBOROUGH health chiefs have admitted sending more than 500 patients home during the night last year.

Figures show that more than one in every fifty patients (2.21 per cent) were sent home from Scarborough Hospital between the hours of 11pm and 6am.

Between April 2011 and March this year, 527 patients were discharged during these times, and more than two-and-a-half thousand patients have been subject to this in less than five years.

Last year Bridlington Hospital didn’t send any patients home late at night, although over the previous four years a total of 36 patients were discharged between 11pm and 6am.

Liz Booth, director of operations at Scarborough and North East Yorkshire Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “Over the past year, we have been working to improve our discharge processes.

“When a patient is admitted to Bridlington or Scarborough Hospital their discharge is planned and discussed with the patient and their family.

“We would never discharge anyone from hospital unless it was clinically appropriate, safe and convenient for the patient or their family.

“These figures need to be put into context as they include patients from maternity – which is patient choice – the emergency department, or those who were transferred to another hospital.

“We are not complacent and will continue to improve our processes further through the work of our discharge planning group to increase the number of discharges which occur in the morning.”

Scarborough and Bridligton Hospitals are both about to be taken over by York NHS Trust, which recorded an overnight discharge rate of 2.36 per cent.

Although marginally higher than Scarborough, this is still better than the 3.5 per cent national average.

Leo McGrory, chairman of Scarborough and District Local Involvement Network, say he was not overly concerned about these figures as they stand, but would like to see a breakdown of how many people had discharged themselves and how many were sent home.

He said: “I’ve not had any concerns raised with me about overnight discharges this year.

“At the moment it is not something we as a group have particular concerns about, but it would be interesting to find out more about the circumstances.

“Scarborough’s figures on this are below the national average.”

The government has said it will investigate why nationally there are still cases of vulnerable, elderly people being sent home at night.