I HAVE just read the Talking Point by Dr Will Taylor, Chief Medical Officer, Herefordshire and Worcestershire NHS Trust (HT, December 7).

He talks of the benefits of discharge during daylight hours to the patient and the ward, highlights that it’s warmer, brighter and safer; reduces the risks of falls and injury to the discharged patient, and frees up beds for incoming patients, as well as freeing up space in A&E, and releasing ambulances and paramedics.

My initial reaction was laughter. Has Dr Will Taylor actually been on a ward recently?


As a regular in-patient the reality is very different. Patients are often elderly and quite poorly, and staff work hard to care for them. Ward rounds take hours, discharge letters are rarely completed before late afternoon. Prescriptions are sent to the hospital pharmacy, where dispensing can take five hours or more. How can Dr Taylor ask patients’ friends and relatives to be ready to collect their loved ones from hospital when discharge can take hours? Some patients live as far as Llandrindod Wells and Ludlow.

As a frequent in-patient of Hereford County Hospital and having no immediate family who can assist me in getting home, I have to hope and pray that on a weekday I am discharged by about 3pm as hiring a taxi is near impossible after that until around 7pm, and at a weekend it’s a whole different ball game.

What are your thoughts?

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There have been the rare occasions due to late discharge where I have had to catch a bus wearing my pyjamas and dressing gown and then walk the rest of the way home. So I ask Dr Taylor, where was there safety in that for a chronically ill lady?

Recently, I spoke to a patient from Great Malvern who, as someone who had visual impairments, was informed that they didn’t qualify for hospital transport, wouldn’t be discharged if they used the bus as they weren’t well enough, but could go home if they paid for a taxi costing £60.

Dr Taylor needs to go and observe the workload and discharge procedures on an acute medical ward for a week and see the reality that staff have to manage. Theory and research are a wonderful thing, but the daily reality for both patients and staff is a very different matter.

I look forward to his reply with interest.