Some 4,000 people a year are shuttled between hospital wards at night when they could be sleeping, a Freedom of Information request has revealed.

One Kingston Hospital patient was shuttled between wards four times in a night.

Figures released by the hospital to the Times show the number of people moved more than once between 11pm and 6am has risen by 20 per cent nationally with almost 200,000 patients moved overnight last year.

The dangers of the moves have been raised by patients and doctors groups.

Dr Mark Temple, acute care fellow at the Royal College of Physicians, told The Times: “The biggest concern is not just the stress to the patient but the safety aspect as well”.

Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, said: “It’s just dehumanising and takes away every bit of dignity.

“It’s not very dignified and it’s not very compassionate.”

A Kingston Hospital spokeswoman said: “There are many reasons why patients are moved at night and this will include acutely sick patients who are admitted to a bed from A&E, patients who require more complex care and are moved to the intensive care unit and patients who need to be moved to more a appropriate ward for their condition.

“However, we do try to keep moves at night to a minimum and over the past few months the trust has actively been looking at ways of reducing the number of patients in beds we have to move after 7pm.

“We are very aware this is very disruptive for them.”

Health minister Dr Dan Poulter told the Comet: “Sometimes you do have to move patients for good reasons. If someone has had a stroke you want to get them to the specialist stroke unit as quickly as possible.

“It is completely unacceptable for a patient to be moved for the convenience of the hospital.

“We have asked Sir Bruce Keogh to look into this and work with hospital chief executives.”

At the 58 trusts that gave figures, 195,372 people were shown to have been moved at night last year.