CONCERN OVER NUMBER OF ELDERLY PEOPLE DISCHARGED FROM HOSPITAL AT NIGHT.
MORE than 1,000 elderly people were discharged from North Wales hospitals at night during 2016 - despite guidelines saying it should be avoided where possible.
Around a third of the over-65s discharged between 10pm and 6am were over 85, according to a Freedom of Information request.
The majority were discharged to their home address although Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board said it does not record whether a family member was informed.
More than 300 of the 1,013 over-65s discharged during the early hours in 2016 were aged 85 years or older.
Geoff Ryall-Harvey, chief officer of North Wales Community Health Council said: "The number of patients over 85 is particularly shocking.
"Older people often live alone and return to a cold empty house with no food and no support. We have heard of ambulance staff voluntarily staying with patients because they are so concerned about leaving these vulnerable patients alone."
Of the 1,013 people discharged last year, 337 were aged 65-74, 367 were aged 75-84 and 309 were aged 85 or over.
Within each age group the majority of patients (684) were discharged back to their home address, with 177 of them aged 85 or over.
Other destinations included care homes, other hospital wards and wards for those with mental illnesses.
The most discharges took place in the west, the busiest month was November and the quietest for late night discharges was March A Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board spokesman said: "More than a third of the discharges between the given hours were from our emergency departments, where it may be entirely appropriate for a patient to leave following urgent medical care.
"We also believe that issues with the quality of our data have significantly increased the number of recorded discharges between 10pm and 6am.
"Our discharge policy states that all patients should not be discharged at night unless it is in their best interest or in exceptional circumstances. We routinely ensure that safe arrangements for a patient to return home or to appropriate care are in place, and assess every discharge on a case-by-case basis."