Bed blocking affects more than 1,400 patients in one month

More than 1,400 people had to stay in hospital despite being fit enough to leave over one month, new figures indicate.

The latest official NHS Scotland information services division statistics state 1,413 people had their discharge delayed at the November 2018 census.

This is an 8% fall on the previous month and 1% down on November 2017.

Of the patients delayed in November 2018 census, the vast majority, 1,146 were delayed for more than three days.

The most common reason for their delayed discharge, also known as bed blocking, was health and social care reasons such as not having a care package in place, at 74%.

For 23% they were unable to leave hospital despite being medically fit enough to do so due to their complex needs and for 3% their delay was down to patient and family-related reasons.

A total of 43,918 days were spent in hospital by people whose discharge was delayed in November 2018, up 4% on the same month the previous year, but down 7% on October 2018.

The average number of beds occupied per day through delayed discharge in November 2018 was 1,464, down from 1,526 the previous month.

Professor Derek Bell, president of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, said: "Although the average total number of patients delayed across Scotland remains fairly static taking into account seasonal changes, the number of available staffed beds being used may be more relevant here, as this will have most impact on acute hospitals.

"In November 2018, it was revealed that there were 429 fewer hospital beds in Scotland across 2017-18.

"We also note that three-quarters of delayed discharges were for health and social care reasons in November 2018, the date for which we have most recent figures.

"As Integration Joint Boards mature, this is an area where they should be showing their impact."