A PENSIONER was sent home from hospital late at night in freezing temperatures wearing just her nightie.

The family of Mary Smith, of Haydock Nursing Home in Pleckgate Road, Blackburn, slammed hospital staff for allowing the 87-year-old to be sent home at 10pm without sufficient clothing.

They are also furious the hospital’s private ambulance driver got lost, meaning what should have been a four-mile journey took an hour and a half.

Yesterday Royal Blackburn Hospital’s chief nurse Lynn Wissett ‘sincerely apologised’ to Mrs Smith and her family.

She said an investigation had also been launched into the incident.

Mrs Smith’s daughter Marian Calvert said her mother had been admitted to hospital after collapsing on Saturday.

She said: “We got through A&E and the assessment unit fine. The consultants were brilliant.

“She was admitted to Ward C7 and on Tuesday they said that, subject to a chest X-ray, they were going to discharge her.

“They found she had a chest infection but that she would be okay to come home once they had given her some penicillin.

“I asked the nurse if we could take her home early and come back for the medicine but she said the hospital would rather wait.

“I also asked if her medication could be in liquid form, as she can’t swallow tablets.”

Mrs Calvert, of Arthur Street, Great Harwood, said the family went home expecting her mother to be discharged the following morning.

But at 10.10pm that night, she received a call from the nursing home saying they had been told her mother was on her way home.

Mrs Smith, who suffers from vascular dementia, had been discharged from hospital at 9.55pm and sent home in a private ambulance.

Mrs Calvert said: “The home rang at 10.10pm and said the hospital had called to say mum was on her way home.

“At 11.15pm they called again to say she wasn’t there yet. Apparently the ambulance had got lost.

“Then at 11.25pm they rang and said she had just arrived.

“She was only wearing a nightie and she had nothing on her feet. She was absolutely frozen.

"This was despite her having a full set of clothes, which was just taken home in carrier bags.

“Why it couldn’t have waited until the morning I just do not know.”

According to Huncoat weather expert Roy Chetham, the temperature on Tuesday night reached -4 degrees.

Mrs Calvert said: “It is just not acceptable.

“I later also discovered that despite me asking for liquid medication they had still sent her home with tablets.”

Mrs Calvert said the family had submitted a complaint to the Patient Advice and Liaison Service.

Mrs Smith, who has been married to 91-year-old Joe for 68 years, worked in Co-op shops all across Lancashire.

She has two daughters, Marian and Barbara Davies, and two grandaughters and three great grandchildren.

Lynn Wissett, chief nurse and deputy chief executive at Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “We fully understand and appreciate the concerns raised by the family of Mrs Smith regarding her discharge from hospital and we sincerely apologise for any distress this may have caused.

“Good communication with relatives and families is really important to us and this obvious breakdown of information is now being fully investigated.

“We are currently liaising with the family to mutually resolve all of their concerns and to ensure all future discharge processes are appropriately followed.”

Care home manager John Lee-Woodhead said Mrs Smith should not have been sent home so late.

He said: “We always advise people to come home, especially if they are no longer receiving medical treatment, as hospitals aren’t the best place for people.

“But common sense has just gone out of the window in this case.

“It was totally negligent for Mary to be sent home at this time.

“Of course we cannot legislate for an ambulance driver getting lost, but the time of her discharge didn’t help.

“Luckily, Mary did not suffer any further illness as a consequence of her journey.”