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Ombudsman report reveals NHS patients are being unsafely discharged from hospital

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A recent ombudsman report has been concluded that NHS patients in England are being sent home afraid and with little support following investigations into unsafe discharge from hospital.

There were said to be 211 complaints of that nature made in one year and the NHS have promised improvement, saying that the findings of this report will be taken seriously. 

The report showed that some of the most vulnerable patients are experiencing traumatic ordeals when they leave hospital causing patient safety to be seriously compromised. This unacceptable failure was said to be due to poor planning and communication between services.

The report was divided into four main issues

  1. Patients being discharged before they are clinically ready to leave hospital
  2. Patients not being assessed or consulted properly before their discharge
  3. Relatives and carers not being told that their loved one has been discharged
  4. Patients being discharged with no home-care plan in place or being kept in hospital due to poor co-ordination across services

One woman in her late 90s, died in her granddaughter’s arms shortly after being sent home from hospital in an ambulance without a thorough examination being carried out. On another occasion, a hospital transferred an elderly woman to a nursing home in a dishevelled state with a cannula still in her arm. Another complaint was from a family whose mother had been left in her home unable to care for herself with no food, drink or bedding and she was unable to get to the toilet.

Julie Mellor, Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO), said: "Health and social care leaders must work harder to uncover why 10 years of guidance to prevent unsafe discharge is not being followed, causing misery and distress for patients, families and carers."

Unfortunately, our clinical negligence department deal with sad instances of this unacceptable treatment of our vulnerable elderly citizens on a regular basis.  

If you or anyone you know has been affected by the content of this post and would like to discuss how we can help, please call our professional clinical negligence advisors on 01616 966 229.

By Amy Hughes, clinical negligence team