Hospital discharged terminally ill man at 11pm – inquest hears he died just days later from pneumonia

Stapleton House Care Home, Borough Road Jarrow
Stapleton House Care Home, Borough Road Jarrow

A grieving man has told an inquest how his terminally ill dad was discharged from hospital late at night – before going on to die just days later from pneumonia.

Norman Elliott, 89, from South Shields, died four days after being discharged from Sunderland Royal Hospital.

Sunderland Royal Hospital.

Sunderland Royal Hospital.

He was suffering with terminal cancer, as well as coronary heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease and what at the time was thought as a chest infection, which had developed over a three-day period.

Mr Elliott was taken to Stapleton House Nursing Home, Jarrow, at 11pm on July 29, 2015.

Mr Elliott’s son Norman told South Tyneside Coroner Terence Carney: “When I got a phonecall from the hospital saying he would be discharged, I assumed it would be in the next couple of hours.

“The next thing I knew, it was about 11.30pm. and I received a call from the manager of the nursing home saying my dad had arrived there.

“I wouldn’t be out at 11.30pm. Why was an 89-year-old with the problems he had be moved around at that time?”

Norman Elliott

“She was disgusted but said she was going to try to get him upstairs, settled and we would speak the following day.”

He added: “I was very angry. I wouldn’t be out at 11.30pm. Why was an 89-year-old with the problems he had be moved around at that time?”

Pathologist Dr Clive Bloxham said Mr Elliott died at South Tyneside District Hospital on August 2.

The cause of death, he revealed, was bronchopneumonia, with background factors of terminal cancer, coronary heart disease and Alzheimer’s.

Stapleton House manager Deborah Poulter said Mr Elliott’s release from Sunderland Royal had caught staff by surprise.

She said: “On July 28, we were made aware he would be discharged the following day. Once it got past 6pm we assumed they had cancelled the discharge.

“He arrived after 11pm and we weren’t expecting him. He was quite frail. It was cold and raining, and he was in his pyjamas.”

Mr Elliott’s son told the hearing he later received letters from the hospital apologising for the circumstances of the discharge.

Staff nurse Mo Monina Sagan explained that such late discharges had happened before.

She told the inquest: “It has happened on occasions in the past.

“If the patient has the capacity to make the decision to go at that time, we will allow them to decide. He was very keen to go.”

The inquest continues.