Heart attack patient, 96, sent home from Hull Royal at 4am
IMPROVEMENTS are being demanded in the way hospitals send patients home after a 96-year-old woman was discharged at 4am.
The pensioner was admitted to Hull Royal Infirmary after suffering a mild heart attack.
Her plight was revealed by Councillor Mary Glew at a meeting of Hull City Council's health scrutiny commission.
Former nurse Cllr Glew said: "I know the discharge policy still isn't right because of what happened to my 96-year-old aunt.
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"She was discharged at 4am after waiting for an ambulance from midnight.
"OK, she was going back to a nursing home rather than somewhere on her own but it's still not good enough.
"I thought they were doing away with discharges at that time of night but it's obviously still going on."
Cllr Glew said her family's anxiety over the discharge had been compounded by the fact some of her aunt's clothing had gone missing while she was in the hospital.
"The last time she went in, her shoes went missing," Cllr Glew said. "This time, half of the clothing wasn't returned. It's very worrying."
Erica Daley, senior commissioning manager in unplanned care at NHS Hull Clinical Commissioning Group, said she was unaware of the case but admitted that late-night discharges should only happen in exceptional cases and with the patient's consent.
"We should be moving away from these practices but we do review every case like this which is brought to our attention," she said.
Mrs Daley stressed discharge decisions were not simply made to free up beds at the hospital.
Councillor Dean Kirk, who also manages a care home in the city, said one of his residents had recently arrived back from hospital without any official discharge letter or doctor's notes.
Two years ago, health watchdog group Link published a report on hospital discharges after carrying out interviews with 100 services users and groups.
Its main findings revealed the need for improved communication between hospital staff and patients over discharge arrangements and quicker waiting times for medication to be released for those due to go home.
One staff member told the watchdog: "Everything is there, it's agreed we all know what people should be doing but it isn't happening."
The report also called for better assessments of patients' care needs to be carried out and improved support for people once they have been discharged.
Link co-ordinator Jonathan Appleton said the watchdog was about to start work on a follow-up report to its 2010 investigation into the issue.
He said: "Our 2010 report made a number of recommendations concerning communication with partners and families, waiting times for medication, assessment of care needs and support to patients at home.
"Since the report was published, there has been a continued interest in these issues and this particular cases underlines that.
"There have also been a number of developments including a new joint discharge policy and the introduction of the intermediate care service."
He said the new investigation was aiming to review progress on 2010's recommendations and explore intermediate care services.
Mr Appleton said the new Link review was expected to be completed in January after in-depth surveys with patients, carers and hospital staff as well as visits to premises.