Thousands of new mums have been discharged from hospital in the middle of the night against their will, new research has shown.
A report by the Sunday Times using data gathered from NHS hospital trusts around the country found more than 30,000 mothers have been left to make their own way home in the early hours over the last three years – and it could be due to a shortage of midwives.
Some 33,000 new parents were told they could leave between 11pm and 6am since 2011, with 12,335 women in 2013 alone – an average of 34 mums each night.
This is despite evidence from experts showing being discharged in the middle of the night with a newborn could be dangerous and disorientating for both mums and babies.
Katherine Murphy, from the Patients Association, explained, ‘Being discharged in the middle of night is not appropriate under any circumstances, more so when women are feeling vulnerable after going through an exhausting delivery.
‘This is unacceptable and puts patients at risk,’ she added.
The Royal College of Midwives director of midwifery, Louise Silverton, told the newspaper that maternity care services have reached ‘a make or break point’.
‘Being discharged in the middle of night is not appropriate under any circumstances’
‘There are not enough midwives or beds and women going home before they are comfortable with the prospect,’ she said.
Meanwhile, David Stout, deputy chief executive of the NHS Confederation, told the Telegraph that the practice appears to be ‘happening under the radar’ and said decisions about discharge should be made in the patient’s best interest.
‘Hospitals should plan discharges effectively and practically and make sure people are properly looked after, and you wouldn’t imagine that’s in the middle of the night,’ he said.
‘Clearly pressure on beds is a reality in some places. By and large the NHS is coping reasonably well, but there are times of peak admissions where there is real, significant pressure on beds. But the answer to that is not chucking people out in the middle of the night.’
Have you been told to leave in the middle of the night with your little one? How did it make you feel?