Sunday, February 22, 2009

NHS now kicking patients out too early

The number of hospital patients being discharged only to be readmitted as emergencies just days later has soared in the last few years, figures reveal. Statistics released by the National Centre for Health Outcomes Development show hundreds of patients are being rushed back to hospital days after being assessed as fit for release. The statistics will fuel criticism of the health service for being too target driven at the expense of providing long-term care.

Roger Goss co-director of Patient Concern, said that hospital trusts were always looking for ways to cut the number of days in hospital for operations. 'Readmissions are the inevitable consequence of so-called "bed-blocking", often a euphemism for high quality care,' he said. 'At the same time, hospital acquired infection rates are so bad that patients want to get out as fast as possible. Better yet, not go in the first place.'

The data reveals that the problem of adult patients having to be brought back to hospital for emergency treatment has risen by almost 20 per cent in the past four years. The figures show that in 2002-03 around 1 in 9 patients aged 75 or over was brought back to hospital as an emergency readmission within 28 days of first being discharged. But by 2006-07 the readmission rate had risen to almost 1 in 7. For adults under 75 the rate has also increased with 8.82 per cent of patients being readmitted in 2006-07, compared with 7.39 per cent in 2002-03. Children's readmission rates have also risen - but not at the same rate - seeing the ratio rise from 1 in 12 patients to 1 in every 11. In total it is estimated that the number of people who are readmitted to hospital as an emergency within 28 days is around 400,000 people per year.

A spokesman for the Department of Health said there were often a number of reasons why patients were readmitted which had nothing to do with poor standards of treatment or care. 'It is in the nature of some conditions, that repeated emergency single admissions will occur,' he said. 'For example, for children a sequence of readmissions is often preferable to a longer stay in hospital. 'Over the last few years patients requiring simple procedures or, in the case of chronic conditions, routine treatment or observation, are increasingly being treated in local and community settings rather than being admitted to hospital.' He added this often made it difficult to interpret readmission rates.


NHS apology over 100-mile birth journey

A woman was forced to give birth more than 100 miles from where she lived because of a lack of suitable cots for premature babies, it has been revealed. Natalie Page, 20, was transferred from hospital in her home town of Leicester to Birmingham, but then from Birmingham to Liverpool where she gave birth prematurely to a daughter on Sunday.

The hospitals involved apologised to Miss Page for the situation which has left her in Liverpool while the rest of her family are in Leicester. David Yeomanson, from Leicester's Hospitals, said: "We are sorry Miss Page had to be transferred via ambulance to Birmingham to deliver her baby, but it was important that she was in the best place to receive the best care for her very premature baby. "The decision to transfer her was made by her consultant as she was about to deliver her baby 11 weeks prematurely due to a pregnancy-related complication. "Unfortunately, we did not have a suitable cot available in our neonatal unit to take her very poorly baby. "We transferred her to Birmingham where they had the specialist neonatal facility for her new baby."

He said they did not have to do it very often, but are part of a neonatal network and transfer babies to a centre able to deliver the level of care and expertise needed for a premature baby. He added: "Whilst this is unfortunate it is not a unique event and all Maternity Units would take the same action in these circumstances."

A spokeswoman for Birmingham Women's Hospital said: "We are very sorry that Natalie Page was unable to give birth in our hospital last week."


No comments: