Dame Julie Mellor believes some patients are experiencing early and unsafe discharge from hospital
Investigations carried out earlier this year into 161 complaints against the NHS reveal that a number of patients were discharged from hospital too early or at an unsafe stage, leading to emergency readmissions at a ‘massive cost’ to the NHS.
While early discharges were a main focus of concern, the investigation also found that many patients experienced misdiagnosis of serious illnesses, such as cancer.
Individual complaints included a patient who was sent home with a broken neck following a road traffic collision, while another patient was forced to give birth at home after being turned away from a hospital maternity ward.
Dame Julie Mellor, member of the parliamentary and health service ombudsman, has argued that many of the early discharges could be the result of staff ‘considering cost implications’, while Labour has said that these complaints are evidence that the NHS is ‘heading in the wrong direction’, ‘full to bursting’ and ‘dangerously understaffed’.
Clinical negligence solicitor at Thompsons Solicitors, Madeleine Pinschof said: “The volume of complaints against the NHS is deeply shocking and is a reflection of the current government’s failure to tackle the pressures that the NHS is facing head on. Where early discharges and misdiagnosis have resulted in medical negligence, there will no doubt have been long-lasting and devastating implications for patients and their families.
“It is absolutely unacceptable that patients are facing misdiagnosis for serious conditions, delays in diagnosis and unsafe discharges from hospital as a result of understaffing and financial pressures. It is high-time the government acknowledges the personal suffering of patients at the hands of NHS reforms imposed by its own policies. It needs to address the desperate need for additional funding and staffing if the future of our National Health Service and the safety of patients are to be ensured.”
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