While these pledges look optimistic for the health service, it remains to be seen whether the thousands of pledges made will actually be implemented. A recent report from Sky News that looked at figures obtained through Freedom of Information requests, has suggested that hospitals are still letting patients down and are not providing the best care.
In particular, the report shows that the NHS is failing to protect the frail and elderly as patients are being sent home at night. The figures obtained from Sky News show that 18,500 people over 75 were discharged from hospital between 11pm and 6am in the past year.
NHS England has expressed outrage following the report, saying that the practice is ‘unacceptable’. Fears are growing that the numbers are so high because hospitals are under pressure to discharge patients in order to make more beds available for more urgent patients.
Pledges were made two years ago to stop the practice of discharging vulnerable patients late at night but the recent figures show the problems have become worse. The report also highlighted cases where elderly people were discharged from hospital without suitable warm clothes, and were later found wandering outside the hospital in a confused state.
The figures are worryingly high and the NHS is now calling into question whether the patients were discharged earlier in the day and it was only the paperwork which was completed between the hours of 11pm and 6am, or whether elderly and frail patients need more protection when they are admitted to hospital.
As a results of the findings, the NHS is calling for better support when a patient is leaving hospital, especially when they are vulnerable. The hospital must make sure that the patient has a place to go and will have the appropriate support from a family member, friend or carer if they are being discharged at night.
At Fletchers we welcome the decision to provide better support for vulnerable patients. While it’s important to make allowances for urgent cases, it’s equally important to maintain good care for the patients already in hospital. The NHS needs to stick to its promises and adhere to the pledges made in recent months.