Woman kept in hospital for 18 months too long

Hospital ward Image copyright PA Media
Image caption The woman was kept on a busy general ward because of a dispute over her ongoing care

A woman who was deemed fit to leave hospital was not discharged until 18 months later because of a dispute over her ongoing care, a report has said.

The Mental Welfare Commission said the woman remained in hospital due to a prolonged disagreement between her family and health professionals.

The woman, who is in her 50s, has learning disabilities, cerebral palsy, diabetes and is registered blind.

She was admitted to hospital following a neck fracture in December 2015.

The woman, referred to as Ms ST, was judged fit to leave hospital in March 2016 but was not discharged until September the following year.

The Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland criticised the treatment of the patient.

She had lived in the family home all her life but, after her hospital admission, social services said she should go into a care home.

The family disagreed and Ms ST had to stay on an orthopaedic ward for 18 months, despite being deemed medically fit to leave.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The report said there was no mechanism for resolving professional disputes about discharging patients who need social care

The commission said her treatment had caused unnecessary distress and that the Health and Social Care Partnership involved had no mechanism to address differences of professional opinion.

Health and Social Care Partnerships were designed to create closer partnerships between health, social care and hospital-based services.

Ms ST's brother and legal guardian said the report showed that the integration agenda had been of no benefit to his sister or his family.

The Mental Welfare Commission is responsible for safeguarding the rights of people in Scotland with a learning disability, mental illness or other mental disorder.

Its investigation was anonymised to protect the individuals involved but it hopes health services can learn from its findings.

Ms ST was finally discharged to her home in September 2017 and the report said she continued to live there successfully with her mother, as well as having social care support.

Kate Fearnley, from the Mental Welfare Commission, said the discharge could have taken place within a few weeks, rather than after almost 18 months of delay.

"Ms ST had a family who were willing and able to have their loved one living back at home, with support, yet had to fight their cause over many months," she said.

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