Patient release figures probe

HEALTH watchdogs are to investigate whether patients are being discharged too early from cash-strapped Ipswich Hospital, it has emerged today.

HEALTH watchdogs are to investigate whether patients are being discharged too early from cash-strapped Ipswich Hospital, it has emerged today.

The move has been made in the wake of growing concerns and anecdotal evidence that patients are being rushed out of the hospital before they are well enough or have appropriate home care packages.

The Patient and Public Involvement Forum (PPI) for Ipswich Hospital has asked health chiefs to hand over figures showing how many patients are readmitted within seven days of being discharged.

The hospital, which has made huge cutbacks to reduce multi-million pound debts, has said it will co-operate fully with the PPI's investigation.

Lorene Baker, PPI chairman, said: “We do hear from several people that this is a problem. Unless we find out who these people are we do not know the scale of the problem.

“We are looking at figures for people who have been readmitted within seven days (with the same illness) which is a fairly good indication if they have been discharged too early.”

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On many occasions this year the Heath Road hospital has been so busy there have been few beds available for new patients - increasing the pressure for existing patients to be discharged as soon as safely possible.

In one case, 85-year-old Raymond Rowe, from Ipswich, was sent home in his pyjamas in a taxi at 2am.

He had originally been admitted with chest pains and breathlessness and his family were told he would probably be ready to go home the following day.

But instead Mr Rowe's stunned wife, 85, got a call from him at 2am saying he was on his way home.

Mr Rowe's son, Trevor, 54, of Bramford, welcomed the PPI's investigation.

He said: “I think it will always happen where you have an issue of pressure on beds. It's one of those situations where I suppose at some point you have to make a decision on somebody who is more seriously ill than someone else.”

Ipswich Hospital spokeswoman Jan Rowsell said the hospital was working closely with the PPI.

“It's their role as a watchdog and we are very happy to equip them in an area we are looking at together,” she said.

“We try to plan people's going home before they even come into hospital. All the support packages people need to be able to return to their independent life are in place.”

N Have you or a relative been affected by this? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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