Lister Hospital apology after elderly Stevenage woman sent home alone after midnight

The East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, which runs Lister Hospital in Stevenage, has apologised

The East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, which runs Lister Hospital in Stevenage, has apologised for the incident - Credit: Josh Massey

An elderly woman has received an apology after being forced from her hospital bed and sent home alone in the early hours of the morning, in an incident which “should never have happened”.

The woman, a 72-year-old from Stevenage who has asked to remain anonymous, was admitted to Lister Hospital in Stevenage with symptoms of pneumonia last month.

She was told she would be kept in overnight while doctors ran blood tests but was woken up shortly after midnight and told her results were clear and the bed was needed for another patient.

Staff at the hospital were not able to contact a member of the woman’s family so called for a taxi to collect her. The taxi was called at 12.20am while she sat in the waiting room.

Her family only became aware she had been discharged when she contacted them the following morning. The woman, who was wearing just a dressing gown, has said how the short walk from the taxi to her front door left her short of breath and she was only just able to afford the fare.

The woman’s son, who has also asked not to be named, said: “I was absolutely shocked when I found out. I generally find the staff at Lister Hospital to be quite professional but, in this instance, I feel serious mistakes have been made.

“I don’t know who is directly responsible for this or what their attitude towards elderly people might be but this should never have happened. It is my understanding that hospital staff have a duty of care, especially towards vulnerable patients like my mother, and that has gone completely out the window here. I hope lessons are learned from this incident and it doesn’t happen to anyone else.”

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Nick Carver, chief executive of the East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, which runs Lister Hospital, said: “When it comes to patient care, one of the Trust’s clear policies is that no patient – unless at their own insistence and with the support of their carers – should be discharged from hospital during the night. In this patient’s case, this policy was not followed – for which we have apologised already to both her and her family. It is important to stress, however, that at no point has the patient or her family raised any concerns about the quality of care she received whilst at Lister.

“Although the patient was being prepared to be discharged during the day in question, this did not happen to plan and a misunderstanding led to her being sent home just after midnight. This should not have happened and the staff involved are now aware of what should have happened, so that this cannot happen again in future.

“The matron in charge of the area met with the patient’s son last December, taking him through the sequence of events and apologising for his mother’s inappropriate discharge home. Whilst his mother was medically ready to go home, her discharge at night-time was against the Trust’s standing policy. We have been in touch again with both the son and his mother over the last few days to discuss their concerns, as well as telling them that we would welcome a formal complaint should they wish to make one. A letter of apology has also been sent to the patient.”