VULNERABLE people who are elderly, have mental health conditions or are homeless are the subject of a new special inquiry.

Independent watchdog Healthwatch Bury has launched a survey to find out how people are discharged from hospitals, care homes and secure mental health facilities.

The inquiry aims to improve government policy and local NHS practice around discharging patients and the support they are offered afterwards.

Healthwatch bosses say a lack of support is causing “crisis in communities” and vulnerable patients are being left isolated.

A report of Healthwatch’s national findings, to be published in September, will be used to advise NHS England and the Secretary of State for Health.

A spokesman for Healthwatch Bury said: “For too long people around the country have not had the right support in place for when they leave a hospital, secure mental health setting or care home.

“This results in people being frequently left isolated and in crisis in our communities, which has a big impact on people’s lives.

“We think that this could have been prevented if patients were put at the heart of the decisions that are made about being discharged and the ongoing support they would need afterwards.

“This investigation is being led by people with direct experience of being discharged and we want to work together to reach out to communities.

“We want to hear real-life experiences and learn what can be done to improve outcomes.”

The boroughwide survey was launched on June 27 and will run until July 31.

For more information or to request a survey: call Healthwatch Bury on 0161 253 6300 or email Surveys can also be downloaded from health and sent to Freepost RSZC-XBKR-KTJS, 3 Manchester Road, Bury, BL9 0DR.