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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Answers demanded on overnight hospital discharges

Kirsty Williams, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, is calling for an investigation into why nearly 20,000 hospital patients in Wales have been discharged in the middle of the night.

Official figures show that, since 2012, the number of patients discharged between 11pm and 6am by Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board which covers Llangollen - including patients who discharged themselves – totals 6,672.
And research by the Welsh Liberal Democrats, via the Freedom of Information Act, reveal that across Wales 19,702 patients have been discharged overnight since in the past two years.

The party discovered that not a single health board in Wales records the reasons why patients have been discharged. 
It is also currently not mandatory for boards to track the leaving time of patients and therefore many have admitted that their data is not necessarily ‘complete or accurate’. 

Cardiff and Vale UHB was the only health board to withhold the information.
The figures collated are for inpatients only.  Inpatient means that the procedure requires the patient to be admitted to the hospital, primarily so that he or she can be closely monitored during the procedure and afterwards, during recovery.

Kirsty Williams AM said: “It is shocking that nearly 20,000 patients were discharged in the middle of the night. The Welsh Labour Government needs to get to the bottom about why these figures are so startlingly high.
“While these figures are just the raw data, behind each of these stats there is a personal story.  I want to know why it’s considered reasonable for thousands of people to be leaving hospital at such anti-social hours.  I am particularly worried that many of these patients could be elderly or vulnerable.

“There are sometimes valid reasons for patients to be released from hospitals in the middle of the night.  However, these figures are exceptionally high and I am concerned that the well-known pressure on beds could be leading to people being discharged at inappropriate times.
“The current system for collating this important data isn’t fit for purpose.  Hospitals aren’t properly recording why and when patients are being discharged. 

“This is potentially a major problem that is slipping under the radar. We are calling on the Welsh Labour Government to ensure this data is recorded accurately and thoroughly so we can see the extent of the problem.”  
Other Welsh health board figures for overnight patient discharges are:
* Abertawe Bro Morgannwg UHB – 3,177

* Aneurin Bevan HB – 2,907
* Cwm Taf HB – 3,831

* Hywel Dda HB – 3,105
* Powys Teaching HB – 10

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