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Age UK's public services programmes manager Ruth Isden said: "It can be a very distressing time going into hospital for older people. They might be very unwell, vulnerable, very frail and what's incredibly important...is proper discharge planning."
Andy Burnham MP, Labour's Shadow Health Secretary, responded to the report on hospital patients being discharged overnight:
"Elderly people should not be treated in this way by the NHS and we need decisive action to stop it.
"Hospitals are under pressure but there can no justification for sending vulnerable people home in the middle of the night, cold and disorientated, and without the necessary support of family and friends."
The Times (£) claims there are big differences in overnight discharges between regions. After sending Freedom of Information requests to all 170 NHS hospital trusts in England, it said the 100 trusts that replied admitted 239,233 patients had been sent home overnight in 2011.
If other trusts were discharging at similar rates, it would add up to 400,000 discharges annually. But rates varied between 8.7 per cent and less than 1 per cent across the trusts.
- Derby Hospitals Foundation Trust said it had sent 8.7 per cent of its patients home overnight in 2011-12, claiming that there might be problems with its records.
- Trusts like Birmingham's the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust, Countess of Chester and University Hospitals of Leicester also have rates above 7 per cent.
- However, other trusts have rates below 1 per cent and Newcastle Hospitals said it never discharged patients at night.
The Times newspaper (£) gave Freedom of Information requests to all 170 NHS hospital trusts in England, asking for details of patients discharged between 11pm and 6am.
Around 100 trusts replied, saying that 239,233 patients had been sent home between those hours in 2011.
If all the remaining trusts were discharging at similar rates, this would add up to 400,000 of these discharges annually, that is nearly 8,000 a week. Rates varied between 8.7 per cent and less than 1 per cent across the trusts, the newspaper said.
The medical director of the NHS has vowed to take action after it was reported that hundreds of thousands of patients are being sent home from hospital in the middle of the night to relieve demand for beds.
Around 3.5% of all hospital discharges took place between 11pm and 6am, a rate that has held steady over the last five years, according to The Times (£).
Latest ITV News reports
The NHS is looking into revelations that 8,000 patients a week, some elderly and vulnerable, are being sent home from hospital overnight.