Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Jim Hume MSP has called for action after figures revealed thousands of older patients may have been discharged from hospital in the middle of the night.
Figures obtained by the Scottish Liberal Democrats through freedom of information laws showed that last year over 7000 patients over the age of 65 were discharged from hospital between 9pm and 9am. 2641 patients over the age of 80 are also recorded as having been discharged late at night.
Responses from Scotland’s health boards also revealed that the online system used to monitor patient records does not record the specific time of which the inpatient was discharged. Instead it reflects when the data was entered into the system. Scottish Liberal Democrats have warned that the lack of accurate information prevents hospital managers from providing the highest standard of care to patients.
Mr Hume said:
“People deserve to know that their loved ones are receiving the highest standard of care. It’s worrying to learn that over 2,500 patients over the age of 80 may be being discharged late at night from some hospitals.
“Our figures show that in NHS Grampian there were 953 patients aged 80 or over, and 2513 patients aged 65 or older who were recorded as discharged between 9pm and 9am. It’s concerning that the patient records system means so many health boards are unable to provide clarity over the true scale of late night discharges. This is unacceptable and prevents hospitals from providing the highest standard of care to patients.
“In some cases patients may have self-discharged or staff may have updated their record in the quieter times in the evenings. However I don’t believe that a single older patient should have to face returning home from hospital in the early hours of the morning. That is why I want to see action taken to rule against the practise of late night discharges for inpatients. This is in line with the good practise already seen in hospitals in Shetland, Tayside and Forth Valley.
“Being admitted to hospital is a tremendously distressing experience without the added upset of being discharged late at night. In light of these new figures I am sure that patients and their families will be keen for health boards across Scotland to adopt a robust policy on discharges.”