DHBs discharging elderly in the middle of the night

The Government needs to explain why it’s allowing DHBs to discharge our elderly people from hospital in the middle of the night, National’s Health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.

In January alone, 156 patients aged 80 years and older were discharged from hospital between 1am and 8am in the morning. Every DHB discharged at least one elderly person during this time, with Waitematā DHB discharging an outstanding 23 people.

Dr Reti says this is an unacceptable practice.

“While there may be some people who are self-discharging to other facilities, there is nothing safe about discharging people over 80 in the very early morning.

“Transitions of care between hospital and the community are often complex and fraught with danger but especially so for older people where we know confusion can be increased at night, especially if social networks aren’t active and they are in an unfamiliar environment.

“It’s clear there are some management issues surrounding discharge delays and bed planning with some people bumped out to free up beds.

“These figures don’t include the number of elderly patients who present at an Emergency Department between these hours and are then sent away so there could be even more people impacted.

“I was made aware of a situation in my electorate where a family was horrified their kuia who went to ED at 1am was then sent home a couple of hours later to a community that was not prepared.

“Our elderly community deserves better support and care than this.

“I can’t think of one good reason to be discharging a person over 80 from hospital in the early morning.

“The Government needs to urgently explain the circumstances around these figures and reassure our elderly community that they won’t be left out in the cold in the middle of the night to free up a bed for someone else.”

You can see a table of data here outlining the number of people aged 80 and older who have been discharged between 1am and 7.59am.