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NHS sees 58 increase in days hospital patients spend waiting for discharge

todayMay 3, 2022

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NHS sees 58% increase in days hospital patients spend waiting for discharge

Ministers have been warned that increasing numbers of patients are being “stuck in hospital unnecessarily” after new figures showed a 58% increase in the number of days people spent in hospital when they were well enough to leave.

Public Health Scotland data showed that in March this year there were some 53,600 days spent in hospital by people who no longer needed in-patient care but whose discharge had been delayed.

That was up by 58% from the 33,840 additional days patients spent in hospital in March 2021.

According to Public Health Scotland, in March this year an average of 1,729 NHS hospital beds were occupied each day by people who were clinically well enough to leave hospital – up from 1,704 in February 2022.

A hospitals census, carried out on the last Thursday of March, showed that at that point there were 1,836 patients whose discharge had been delayed, a rise of 8% from February’s total.

Commenting on the rise, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “The pressure and gaps in community care are causing more and more people to be stuck in hospital unnecessarily.

“The situation is as bad as ever. People should never have to wait weeks or months on a care home place or help to return home.”

The Lib Dem insisted: “The solution to the crisis in social care isn’t a takeover by the very same Scottish Government ministers who moved untested and Covid-positive people into care homes at the start of the pandemic.

“Instead, Scottish Liberal Democrats want to drive up the quality of care for users and move quickly to reward staff with better pay, conditions and career progression through powerful national bargaining.

“This should be backed by a Health and Social Care Staff Assembly that puts frontline experience and expertise at the heart of the response to this crisis.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “During the coronavirus pandemic we have continued to work with health and social care partnerships to reduce delays in people leaving hospital.

“It is critical that people are cared for in the right setting and that vital hospital beds are there for those who need them.

“Being at home or in a community setting is in the best interests of anyone who no longer has any clinical need to be in hospital.”

The spokesperson said that the “whole health and social care system is under severe pressure and staff continue to work tirelessly to provide safe care”.

But they said ministers had launched an improvement programme, called Discharge without Delay, aimed at improving discharge planning.

The spokesperson continued: “Significant additional funding has been allocated to support social care, including £62 million to enhance care at home capacity; £48 million to increase the hourly rate of pay; £40 million to provide interim care arrangements; and £20 million to enhance multi-disciplinary teams.

“Funding is also being used to rapidly scale up Hospital at Home services, which aim to reduce acute admissions and support timely discharge.

“We have also invested in innovative services that aim to care for more people at home. For example, since 2020 we have invested over £4.5 million in the development of Hospital at Home, and there are currently 20 partnerships with an active Hospital at Home service.”

There are also record numbers of patients delayed under the adults with incapacity legislation, the spokesperson said, explaining: “These are patients who, although clinically ready for discharge, cannot be legally discharged without a court-appointed guardian being in place.

“We employed a mental health officer to work with partnerships to identify the barriers within this legal process at local levels and will be turning this in to an action plan to drive improvement.”

Published: 03/05/2022 by Radio NewsHub

Written by: NDR NEWS

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