Frail and elderly patients are being discharged in a hurry from the Princess Royal Hospital because of a “beds shortage” claims Tony Reynolds, chairman of the Central Sussex Patients’ Forum.
Mr Reynolds was involved in conducting a small survey on hospital discharges commissioned by Horsham and Mid Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group as part of its efforts to improve urgent care.
The findings show that 14 elderly patients interviewed for the survey reported being directly involved in planning their discharge, while 23 patients reported not being involved.
“It wasn’t planned at all,” said one patient’s relative, adding: “It was a very sudden decision to send her home and she was very upset.”
A patient said: “No communication, not planned enough, I received no help to dress for discharge or to eat.”
Patients reported not being given explanations by hospital staff for delays and also reported that delays were predominantly caused by having to wait for medications or by problems relating to the Patient Transport Service.
One patient said: “I waited five hours because the pharmacy was closed.”
Mr Reynolds said: “Four people in the survey were in their nineties and quite a lot more were in their eighties. It’s not written in the report but implied that some people are being rushed out of their beds as there aren’t enough beds in the hospital.”
The survey was conducted by Mr Reynolds and fellow members of The West Sussex Involvement Network (LINk) and showed the need for better communication.
Nikki Luffingham, chief operating officer for Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals, said: “We feel we discharge patients in a timely manner, which is in-line with national guidelines.
“We are currently working with Adult Social Care and Sussex Community Trust to develop patient information that will give patients and their relatives useful information and contacts that will be helpful when they are discharged home.
“It has become apparent that sometimes patients and their carers often may not understand all the information they are given and do not challenge anything they are unsure of so we are encouraging our healthcare professionals to check that patients and their carers fully understand what will happen to them after leaving hospital and to ask if they have any questions.”