HOSPITAL beds are being blocked due to delays in administering medication.

Dorset County Hospital governors have raised concerns over the number of patients told they can leave – but then have to wait ‘four or five hours’ for medicines.

A meeting heard that until a new £500,000 electronic system is fully installed, problems will remain.

Patient governor Wendy Nightingale said: “Why is there such a long delay?

“People are being told they can go home but are then waiting four or five hours for their discharge medication.”

She said on a feedback form one patient had said: “Discharge was a mess. I have had to wait for ages for my medication.’ Chairman Dr Jeffrey Ellwood said it was a ‘fundamental flaw in our patient experience’ and likened the hospital to an airline that loses its customerss bags.

He said: “Like an airline, we are getting you from A to B safely, and then we blow it by losing your luggage.”

The meeting heard that the hospital had made ‘good progress’ in cutting waiting times, but that problems still exist.

Chief executive Jean O’Callaghan said: “While there is still an unacceptable level of delays, there has been progress.”

Governors were told the hospital is still waiting for national funding for the project, due to be completed in May 2015.

It will include software, new medication lockers and new ward trolleys.

A spokesman for Dorset County Hospital said: “Once a decision is taken that a patient can go home there are various procedures and checks that must be followed before they can leave the hospital.

“TTOs (to take out medicine prescriptions) will generally be written up by a junior doctor at the end of their ward round and then need to be verified by a pharmacist as a safety check.

“The pharmacist will often use this time to speak to the patient if there is any particular information they need about their medicines.

“The TTO forms then go to pharmacy and items are dispensed and checked. Then the medicines are taken back to the ward by a porter or by a member of the discharge team if the patient has been taken to our discharge lounge. There may also be arrangements required for transport or social services support.

“All these things take time so patients will not leave hospital immediately but we make every effort to ensure they can go home as swiftly as possible.

“Electronic prescribing will speed up the process and improve safety as there will be no ambiguity about what has been prescribed and the system will immediately flag issues such as drugs prescribed together which may potentially interact.”

A progress report will be presented to the governors in six months’ time.