DEMENTIA patients are being moved between hospitals and wards because of a lack of space, NHS inspectors claim.

During a three-day surprise visit to the Southern General Hospital, Glasgow, they saw one dementia sufferer being transferred from a different hospital in the middle of the night to make space.

The inspection team also discovered one qualified nurse, backed by two support workers, was being left in charge of 25 patients at night for "considerable periods" because the other nurse was tied up admitting patients who could not be accommodated elsewhere.

However, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde claimed people with cognitive problems are not shuffled around because they are running out of beds.

Jacqui Macrae, head of quality of care for HIS, said: "During this inspection, we were particularly concerned about patient flow and capacity within the hospital. On the majority of wards inspected we found no evidence of care plans being used to inform and evaluate the care given to patients."

The report, published by Healthcare Improvement Scotland, noted two areas of strength at the hospital and listed 16 areas for improvement.

The staff were described as friendly and polite, and the report praised the garden area designed for patients using the Medicine For The Elderly Unit.

However, inspectors said they were "very concerned" about the number of patients well enough to leave hospital but could not be discharged. They found 48 patients in this position.

Explaining the problem, the report stated: "We were told patients are waiting up to 54 days to be allocated a social worker to allow an assessment of needs to be carried out.

"This is detrimental to the patients as it can lead to issues with cognitive impairment, increased risk of infection and impact on functional ability.

"Patients should not be kept in hospital longer than they should be."

The hospital's approach to discharge planning was described as "inconsistent" and issues were also found with the assessments patients require when they are admitted to hospital.

Guidelines say people should be assessed for their risk of pressure sores within six hours of arrival.

The report on the Southern stated 21 out of 29 patient records checked during the inspection showed such an assessment was not completed in this time frame.

Two patients waited almost two weeks (13 days) before the information was recorded and another 11 days.

The inspectors saw two patients who had picked up pressure sores in hospital.

They noted one person, with multiple health problems, had a "grade three" sore but there "was no care plan to outline the care or treatment this patient required."

Jim Pearson, deputy director of policy at Alzheimer Scotland, said: "A number of problems highlighted in this report are unacceptable, particularly those relating to the inappropriate moving of patients between wards. Sadly, they are not uncommon.

"Alzheimer Scotland is working closely with the Scottish Government and health boards across the country to address these important issues."

Rory Farrelly, NHSGGC's acute director of nursing, said: "We are pleased to note the inspection team observed friendly and polite interactions between staff and patients, with most of the patients interviewed speaking positively about the quality of care received.

"However, we are sorry that in a number of areas we are still falling short of the standards expected in all our hospitals.

"Clearly, we need to reinforce some of our policies with staff and provide additional training where required."