Today the BBC reports that NHS patients in Engalnd are being sent home from hospital afraid and with little support, an ombudsman report reveals.
The independent artibrator investigated 2112 such complaints in a year.
Among them is the case of an 80 year old woman, repeatedly sent home in a confused state to an empty house, only to be readmitted to hospital when neighbours raised the alarm.
The NHS says the findings will be taken seriously and improvement is under way. The report shows that some of the most vulnerable patients, including frail and elderly people, are enduring harrowing ordeals when they leave hospital. Also that poor planning, co-ordination and communication between hospital staff and between health and social care services are failing patients, compromising their safety and dignity.
Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK said:
"Most people would assume that in a civilised society no older person would ever be pressured to leave hospital without adequate support being in place, yet recent calls to Age UK's advice line also show that in our hospitals today, good basic discharge practice is by no means guaranteed.
"As such this report and the dreadful cases it describes mark a new low in what looks like a continuous downward trend in the capacity of our health and care system to look after our older people adequately - indeed, on occasion even in its ability to keep the most vulnerable safe and alive.
"Good practice is about much more than just money but it is surely no coincidence that the position is getting worse at a time when the NHS is under appalling financial pressure and the social care system is falling apart at the seams.
"We cannot go on like this. The Government needs to get a grip and arrest the process of decline, and if that means re-opening the Spending Review and investing substantially more in the NHS and in social care then that's what they should do, and quickly."
Age UK Richmond upon Thames is already addressing this huge issue in the Borough of Richmond with the new Nightingale Service. Through our work with older people, we identified the problems they face when returning home from hospital and are readmitted for reasons which could be avoided. The Nightingale Service supports people returning home after a stay in hospital, to help build independence and avoid unnecessary readmission.
Read more about this on the BBC website here