The NHS has been accused of discharging elderly and vulnerable patients from hospital, despite adequate care arrangements not being in place.

Dame Philippa Russell, chairwoman of the UK Government Commission on Carers, made the comments after her relative was discharged from hospital just two weeks after suffering a stroke.

She describes how she visited him in hospital, only to find he was waiting to be discharged – one week ahead of schedule.

There was no discharge plan, the consultant was not available to speak to and, as it was a Friday afternoon, the GP surgery had already closed.

Home care arrangements had not been put in place, something hospital staff did not even bother to enquire about.

Dame Philippa found it was impossible to get the help of a carer at such short notice and had to make do on her own. She found a builder to fit some handrails, borrowed a wheelchair and asked a neighbour to assist when lifting her relative in and out the bath.

She says the experience was “very, very frightening.”

Inadequate aftercare is costing lives

Experts suggest that routinely discharging elderly and vulnerable people without putting plans for their recuperation in place is undoing any benefit a patient might have gained from hospital treatment.

The Royal Voluntary Services estimates that 15% of patients over the age of 75 are readmitted to hospital within 28 days of being discharged.

The Nuffield Trust and the Health Foundation discovered the number of elderly patients with hip fractures who are readmitted within weeks as an emergency has increased by 69% over the past decade.

This is proving expensive for the NHS, with the cost of readmissions within 30 days amounting to £2.2billion a year.

Dr Jane Stanford, who has previously voiced concerns about inadequate aftercare, said: “Many patients are not sent out of hospital with the expectation that they are terminal, but the level of care is so abysmal that death becomes inevitable.”

It seems the problem is that hospitals need the bed, so discharge a patient into the care of social services.

However, there is a lack of communication between the NHS and social services, meaning many patients are simply sent home to fend for themselves – something which often results in further injury and ill-health.

Poor medical care

If you or your loved one has been harmed because of poor medical care, please get in touch with us to discuss your options.

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