Mums at risk as hospitals send them home late

THOUSANDS of new mothers are being discharged from hospitals in the middle of the night as a shortage of midwives leaves maternity care at “make or break point”, a Sunday Times investigation reveals.

Almost 33,000 women were sent home after giving birth between 11pm and 6am in the past three years, despite experts warning that discharging exhausted new mothers in the early hours puts them at risk.

Patients’ groups branded the figures “unacceptable”, and maternity workers urged the government to pump money into a service struggling to cope.

Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, said: “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 put patients at risk.”

Baby feet

Figures obtained under freedom of information rules reveal that 12,335 new mothers were discharged between 11pm and 6am during 2013 — the equivalent of 34 women every night.

The data, revealed in responses from 81 of the 167 NHS health trusts in England and Wales, show a worsening situation, with the number of late-night discharges rising from 10,696 mothers in 2012 and 9,801 in 2011.

Mandi Riley, 26, was discharged from Liverpool Women’s Hospital late at night following difficulties during the birth of her daughter Jessica. She claimed she was left in tears after having to make her way home after 11pm on a cold, snowy night in 2009.

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Sickbed UK does poorly

BRITISH hospitals have fewer beds per person than almost every country in Europe, shock figures have revealed.

In a survey of 28 nations the UK came second from bottom — beating only Sweden — with fewer than three beds for every 1,000 Brits.

That is way below the figures for some of Europe’s poorest countries. Even hard-up Bulgaria had seven beds per 1,000 citizens.

Hospital beds stock image

Official figures show almost 12,500 operations have been cancelled so far this winter as hospitals ran out of space. The latest data from the European Commission — which saw Germany at No1, with 8.3 beds — has sparked fears of an NHS crisis.

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UK has fewer doctors per person than most of EU

THE UK has fewer doctors per person than almost all other European countries, new figures reveal.

Health groups and unions last night branded the situation “extremely worrying” and urged the Government to “get a grip” on staffing levels.

It comes as figures produced by the European Commission show the UK has 2.71 practising doctors for every 1,000 people.

Hospital corridor three people

It puts us 24th in the league table of 27 European nations – behind some of the poorest countries, including Bulgaria, Estonia and Latvia.

Only Poland, Romania and Slovenia have fewer doctors per head.

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