One in five elderly hospital patients are sent home prematurely, report reveals

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The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Deputy News Editor

ONE in five patients over the age of 75 have been sent home prematurely by a North-East hospital trust, according to figures released today (MON).

Northumberland Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation, together with Birmingham Women's NHS Foundation Trust and West Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust all reported readmission rates of more than 20 per cent.

Concerns have been raised that thousands of elderly patients across England are being sent home from hospital before they are well enough after it was revealed emergency readmission rates have doubled in the last decade.

The number of over-75s in England who have to undergo emergency readmission to hospital hit 201,000 in 2010/11, research conducted by data experts Ssentif Intelligence revealed.

The figure is a stark rise from 2001/2 when the readmission rate for this age group stood at 103,000 a year.

A shocking 16 per cent of all over-75s need emergency readmission within 28 days of discharge, Ssentif said.

Across all ages, 650,000 patients in England were readmitted as an emergency in 2010/11 - a considerable rise from 380,000 patients in 2001/2.

Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, said: "'We need a more integrated NHS, so that readmissions don't continue to lead to poor patient care and huge financial costs to the NHS," she said.

Judy Aldred, managing director of Ssentif, said: ''One of the main reasons for the increase in readmissions is the lack of community health services available to patients after discharge.

''These services were historically provided by primary care trusts but during the reorganisation of the NHS, many of the community services during the time these figures were collated would have been in the process of moving organisations."

No-one at the Northumberland Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation was last night able to comment.

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