People with dementia are unsafely discharged from hospital, report finds

A report by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman has found that people are being unsafely discharged from hospital with devastating consequences.

The report highlights numerous incidences of people being prematurely discharged, or without adequate care protocols in place. These findings reinforce those of Alzheimer’s Society Fix Dementia Care investigation, launched in January 2016. The charity submitted Freedom of Information requests to all NHS trusts, uncovering several key concerns around the variation in quality of hospital care for people with dementia.


Our investigation found that last year, 4,926 people with dementia were inappropriately discharged at night (between the hours of 11pm and 6am). In the three worst-performing hospitals, four to five people were being discharged overnight per week (FOI request, 2015 – response from 68 trusts).

Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive Officer at Alzheimer’s Society, said:

'The shocking findings of this report only serve to compound the evidence that people are not receiving adequate support when they are discharged from hospital. We know from the findings of our Fix Dementia Care investigation that too many people with dementia are being discharged at night, which is unsafe, disorientating and distressing. It also increases the likelihood of them leaving without relevant information, the correct medication or the right support in place because staff are not on duty to discharge them properly.

'All hospitals should have a discharge policy that takes the needs of people with dementia into account. People should be assigned a discharge co-ordinator who ensures they have a health and social care assessment, and that an appropriate support package is put in place to meet the needs of the person with dementia and their carer. The date and time of discharge should be discussed and arranged with the person and their carer with at least 24 hours’ notice, along with transport to their home or care home.

'Substandard care and poor hospital discharge can fundamentally change the lives of people with dementia and their families for the worse. By combining good community support from Dementia Advisers with sensible hospital discharge procedures, we can avoid lives being needlessly placed at risk. It’s vital that we get this right.'

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