90 year-old woman sent home from hospital at 12.40am

Irene and Tom Howard
Irene and Tom Howard
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A husband has hit out after his 90-year-old wife was sent home from hospital in the early hours of the morning.

Tom Howard, 92, said he was “disgusted” that his wife Irene, who has Alzheimer’s and walks with a frame, was sent home from A&E at 12.40am.

Irene Howard

Irene Howard

Irene, who has a catalogue of health issues including problems with high blood pressure and vascular issues, was rushed to Royal Preston Hospital at around 7.30pm on Sunday, June 15. Tom said he had been concerned about her blood pressure becoming “dangerously high” and said his wife has had mini-strokes in the past – prompting him to call an ambulance.

But says he was “shocked” when five hours later the door bell rang and his wife had been brought home by two paramedics, as he had not been informed.

However, today officials at the Royal Preston Hospital defended their actions and said Irene was sent home because she didn’t need to be admitted and said while it might have been “disruptive” to return her home, it was “absolutely the right thing to do”. Tom, from Longton, near Preston, said: “To send her home at 12.40am is unbelievable for an old lady.

“I was shocked, I couldn’t understand it. I thought they would have kept her in.

“Her blood pressure was still high. To me it is deplorable.

“I can only assume from the experience when I went in 18 months ago and was discharged at 1am that there were no beds.

“This isn’t just Preston, it is happening everywhere.

“She was given no prescription and no treatment. As far as she can remember they didn’t give her any medication.”

Cancer-sufferer Tom has been Irene’s carer since 2007. He said: “I only know from what she has told me but I am disgusted. When she got home I said ‘what are you doing here?’”

Tom, who has been married to Irene for 69 years, said he would complain to the hospital.

He says it isn’t the first time he has had problems with the Royal Preston Hospital. Earlier this year his bladder was damaged because of problems with his catheter.

He added: “This health service is nowhere near what is used to be.

“I am not complaining about the nurses and the staff. I am blaming those at the top – those making a mess of the health service.”

Derek Barton, the vice chairman of the North West Pensioners’ Association, said other factors, including Irene’s age and other conditions, should have been taken into account.

He said: “We come across this all the time. I have been at the National Pensioners Convention where a lot of these issues were being raised.

“It’s happening all over the country. I am absolutely fuming about this kind of thing – it is happening too much.”

Karen Partington, chief executive of Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Around 400 people attend our Emergency Department every day. The majority are given advice, treated, or referred to primary care and leave the hospital within four hours.

“Only around 18 per cent of people attending Emergency Department have a condition that requires urgent admission to hospital.

“We always arrange transport for anyone who needs assistance to get home.

“We always ensure appropriate support is available at home, which might be provided by a family member, or if required we’ll arrange social care or community nursing services.

“All the evidence shows that an unnecessary admission to hospital for someone with dementia can be frightening and create anxiety, and that they are best cared for in a familiar environment.

“We recognise that returning an elderly person to their own home at night might be disruptive, but as long as they have appropriate support this is absolutely the right thing to do and it is in their best interests.”

Meanwhile, Alzheimer’s Society regional operations manager Hazel Bayley said: “Being admitted to hospital can be a disorientating and distressing experience for someone with dementia.

“Unless it is necessary on medical grounds, most people living with dementia who Alzheimer’s Society has spoken to would prefer to avoid an unnecessary admission to hospital and stay in their own familiar surroundings at home.”