HOSPITAL doctors have been warned to resist pressure to discharge patients who want to go home for Christmas.

Scottish medical defence organisation MDDUS has told junior and middle grade doctors not to let emotions cloud judgments due to the time of year.

Patients and their relatives can pressurise medical staff for a discharge or a period of home leave because of the attractions of a normal family Christmas, according to MDDUS.

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Dr John Holden, joint head of MDDUS' medical arm, said junior and middle grade staff may be tempted to succumb to patients' wishes. He said: "It is one thing getting in the Christmas spirit, but patient safety is paramount at all times and doctors should only discharge patients who meet the usual criteria for being fit to go home."

MDDUS has handled a number of cases where issues about the time of discharge have been raised, including patients who have died shortly after leaving hospital and patients who have had to be readmitted.