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NHS pledge follows hospital discharge statistics.

THOUSANDS of patients in the region are being sent home from hospital in the middle of the night to relieve pressure on beds.

County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust has confirmed that 3.6% of all hospital discharges took place between 11pm and 6am last year.

In 2011 5,156 patients were discharged in the middle of the night, which is down on 2010 which had 5,463.

A spokesperson for County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust said: "We negotiate the discharge with the patient and if a patient is clinically fit for discharge and wishes to go home and we feel it is safe then we will discharge."

The Times newspaper submitted Freedom of Information requests to all 170 NHS hospital trusts in England, asking for details of patients discharged between the hours of 11pm and 6am.

Some 100 trusts responded, saying that 239,233 patients had been sent home at that time last year. Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said it is not the policy of the Trust to discharge or transfer patients overnight.

A spokesperson for Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: "The trust ensures all discharges are safe and undertaken in a planned way, and that there is good communication with everyone involved in the patient's discharge. "This is better undertaken during the day when core services and people are available. The trust recognises that for the patient, and their carers, inadequate planning may lead to delay, unacceptable risk, anxiety and vulnerability which can result in patients having to be re-admitted."

Sir Bruce Keogh, medical director of the NHS, said: "I am concerned to hear that some patients may be being discharged unnecessarily late. It is simply not fair to be sending people home late at night. We will look at this."
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Apr 13, 2012
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