Claims by Scottish Liberal Democrat politicians that NHS Grampian figures show an alarming trend to discharge elderly patients during night-time hours have been rejected by the health authority.
The Liberal Democrats health spokesman Jim Hume MSP made the claim after obtaining figures under a Freedom of Information request that appeared to show 7000 patients over the age of 65 where discharged from hospitals between 9pm and 9am in the last year.
Of those 2641 were over the age of 80, prompting Mr Hume to say: “It’s concerning that the patient records system means so many health boards are unable to provide clarity over the true scale of late night discharges.
“This is unacceptable and prevents hospitals from providing the highest standard of care to patients.
“In some cases patients may have self-discharged or staff may have updated their record in the quieter times in the evenings. However, I don’t believe that a single older patient should have to face returning home from hospital in the early hours of the morning.
“That is why I want to see action taken to rule against the practice of late night discharges for inpatients.”
A NHS Grampian spokeswoman dismissed the claims however, pointing out that staff members at such as Dr Gray’s in Elgin will not update the system at the exact time of discharge.
She said: “An in-patient is only discharged when it is clinically appropriate and following discussion with either them or their family.
“It must be emphasised that these figures record the time a patient was removed from the system, not the actual time of discharge.”
A staff nurse at Dr Gray’s who did not wish to be named told insideMoray: “Attempts by politicians to play football with the health service are becoming more than a little tedious – not to mention the fact that they often mislead the public.”