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Hospital re-admissions defended

PUBLISHED: 10:10 05 February 2010 | UPDATED: 16:33 30 June 2010

Health bosses have defended their discharge processes as it was revealed there is a rising rate of

re-admissions for sick patients in our hospitals.

Some 9pc of patients who went to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital's emergency department last year were

re-admitted within 28 days of being sent home and 3.

Health bosses have defended their discharge processes as it was revealed there is a rising rate of

re-admissions for sick patients in our hospitals.

Some 9pc of patients who went to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital's emergency department last year were

re-admitted within 28 days of being sent home and 3.2pc of elective patients were re-admitted in the same time period.

Although the rates are below the national average (9.6pc for emergencies and 4.1pc for elective patients) they have gradually risen in the past five years.

The James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston has a general re-admission rate of 5.7pc which has risen from 5.6pc in 2005.

North Norfolk MP and Lib Dem health spokesman Norman Lamb said hospitals were “struggling to get it right” but bosses said a patient's re-admission was usually more to do with an ongoing condition rather than linked to the previous discharge.

Mr Lamb said: “We have problems where patients are in hospital too long when they are ready to be discharged but then there is this issue of people being let out too early. There needs to be a right balance with proper procedures in place to ensure all patients are admitted and dis-charged at the appropriate time.”

In the UK, more than 546,000 patients were sent home from NHS hospitals when not well enough in 2007-08, according to new figures.

The rising rate of re-admissions - the figure was just 359,719 in 1998 - has been blamed on a target culture which puts pressure on hospitals to free up beds.

A spokesman from the N&N said: “Emergency re-admission rates are one indicator of the quality of care that hospitals provide. Our re-admission rates, both emergency and elective, are consistently lower than the average for university hospitals in this country. The public can be reassured that their university hospital also has good mortality rates and among the lowest infection rates in the region.”

A James Paget spokesman said patients had a pre-discharge assessment and only left hospital if clinicians considered it safe.

She said: “Discharge is properly planned and we work closely with our partners in the community to ensure appropriate rehabilitation and support services are in place if patients need aftercare when they leave hospital, to help them continue with their recovery.

“The majority of readmissions are not linked to the patient's previous visit to hospital, but as a result of an ongoing condition.”

The figures are not currently available for the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn but Dr Geoff Hunnam, medical director at the hospital, said many of the patients who were later re-admitted had chronic conditions.

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