Hospital Offer Staff Easter Eggs to Discharge Patients

Bedford Hospital have  set departments against one another in a competition to win Easter eggs by discharging patients. 

Nurse Station were made aware of the somewhat bizarre and disturbing practice on the evening of the 23rd of March by one of our followers on Facebook. Staff can be seen holding the potential prize. Bedford Hospital have since removed the post from their Facebook account. The idea has attracted quite a bit of negative attention from healthcare professionals and members of the public across social media. Comments such as “How unprofessional” and “Hold on! Discharged where? Overstretched community?” have been very common.

The perceived need to run such competitions appears to assume that staff require further incentive to safely discharge patients. The organic incentive in this situation is that we, as healthcare professionals, are able to do exactly what we signed up to do. We ALWAYS wish to discharge patients safely at the appropriate time. Any suggestion otherwise had better come with some pretty strong evidence. The incentive of cheap chocolate has been seen as degrading and patronising.

Followers commenting on the post have said that the need to discharge patients is well known, but often the system plays against you.  The danger of such competitions, regardless of the prize, is that the event of discharge becomes the primary objective instead of the safety and quality of the discharge and the preceding care. Trying to explain an unsafe discharge to a patient and relative following such a competition is a position we should never put ourselves in or put our patients and their families in.

As nurses, or any care professional, we are advocates. It’s plain and simple. Such competitions should be shot down at inception. Competing to discharge patients is likely to develop silos within hospitals. We know that hospitals must work as whole systems, one big team, with the patient smack bang at the centre.

From The Author

This incentive and the publication of is hopefully the result of a well-meaning idea gone wrong. It wreaks of inexperience and naivety. My advice to anyone asked to take part in such schemes is to as one simple question, “So how do we plan to tell the patients and their families about this?”

We’ll be contacting Bedford Hospital in order to seek their side of the story. It’s only fair. We’ll keep you posted.


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