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Concern over release of dementia patients

By Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: May 23, 2014

By Leslie Jackson

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A COUNCIL leader is to ask her own health scrutiny panel to thoroughly investigate if patients are being discharged from local hospitals to homes without heating or food.

Leader of Staffordshire Moorlands District Council, Sybil Ralphs, said she wanted the panel to check all local hospital discharge policies.

The moves comes after a health watchdog warned dementia sufferers are being sent from hospitals to home without heating or food.

Now the first national inquiry into the way patients are discharged from wards is to take place

The inquiry by Healthwatch England – the statutory consumer champion for health and social care – will hear evidence from 148 of its community groups about failings to discharge patients safely.

Ms Ralphs said: "I intend to attend in person the next health scrutiny panel on June 4, to present this report to members and to ask that they take this issue up for investigation, with the local health authority.

"It would be interesting to hear from anyone in the district who has been subject to this unacceptable practice.

"As leader of the council I have a duty of care for all residents of the Moorlands. And I want to make sure that this current practice of discharging patients, which in my opinion is both cruel and dangerous, does not happen to any of our residents."

Ms Ralphs added: "The report states that more than one million patients were re-admitted to hospital as an emergency last year within a month of being sent home – a rise of more than one quarter in a decade.

"Patients' groups said tens of thousands of patients were being placed at risk because they were sent home too early, without the right care, and in some cases without even basic amenities. Research has found elderly patients being discharged from wards in the middle of the night, with some hospitals discharging one in 10 patients outside daylight hours in order to free up beds.

"The organisation said local groups had uncovered distressing cases of poorly planned discharges, with elderly dementia sufferers discharged to homes without heating or food, and homeless people put back on the streets after major surgery."

The Heathwatch England website said: "In contrast to standard public inquiries, this investigation will be led by people with direct experience of unsafe discharge and will reach out to communities right across the country. We have heard that things often go wrong when people are discharged from health and social care institutions

"Tens of thousands of people are potentially being sent home without proper support when they leave hospital or a care home. People can be left isolated in our communities and end up in crisis that could have been prevented."

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