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Elderly patients discharged from Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust in middle of the night

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The number of patients who are being discharged from hospital in the middle of the night is rising - despite NHS bosses warning against the practice.

Figures from Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust, which runs Pinderfields, Pontefract and Dewsbury hospitals, show that almost 650 patients left hospital between 11pm and 6am last year.

And the number patients aged over 65 discharged late at night or during the early hours of the morning has increased.

In 2011-12, 138 patients aged over 65 left hospital between 11pm and 6am, rising to 142 the following year and 154 in 2013-14.

Dozens of the patients were aged over 75. That age group accounted for 86 overnight discharges last year.

In 2012 NHS trusts were ordered to cut overnight discharges following reports that vulnerable patients were being left to make their own way home.

Mid Yorkshire pointed out that around 99 per cent of its patients were discharged during working hours.

The trust said on rare occasions when discharge happened outside working hours, extra steps were taken to make sure the patient was safe.

Neil Clark, director of operations in emergency and elective services, said: “Discharging patients at night without appropriate support is unacceptable.

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

The overall number of people discharged between 11pm and 6am at Mid Yorkshire was 540 in 2011-12 and 539 the following year. Then the figure rose to 646 in the last financial year.

A spokeswoman 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 or early in the morning, it should be accommodated only where it is safe and clinically appropriate and with the support of family, friends or carers.

“The decision to do this should always be based on what is best for the patient.”

NHS England said some of the patients could have discharged themselves overnight. Others may show up as overnight discharges because of the time nurses filled paperwork in.

 

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