Doctors told to discharge patients, despite possible harm


  • Dawn O'Shea
  • UK Professional News
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A hospital trust told doctors they might have to discharge patients early, despite the risk of harm, according to the BMA.

The association has issued a statement after a memo sent to doctors at the Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust last week said patients could be discharged “earlier than some clinicians would like”, admitting that some patients would “possibly come to harm”.

Commenting on the memo, BMA council chair Chaand Nagpaul, said: “This example highlights the frankly unacceptable situation doctors face on the ground, being pressured to discharge patients earlier than is clinically appropriate, putting themselves and patients at risk owing to a lack of capacity and unprecedented demand.”

“This is a dire indictment of the state our NHS has been allowed to creep into,” he said.

Kate Shields, chief executive at Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust, said the hospital had been “very full” and that some patients could be cared for at home.

Ms Shields said the trust was not asking to discharge patients at risk or those who would be unable to cope at home.

“We are saying to our doctors and our occupational therapists and our physios that if there are people that you think can go home and they can be cared for in the community that's what we want you to do. We don't want you to wait and do more and more checks,” she said.

In recent weeks, the pressures on the trust have been highlighted, with statistics showing that nearly 2,000 patients waited for more than four hours in emergency departments in December.