Lost bed days ‘cost NHS Scotland more than £120 million in year’

Delays in discharging patients from hospital cost the NHS in Scotland around £120 million last year, official statistics suggest.

Figures published by ISD Scotland on Tuesday indicate a total of 514,851 bed days were lost last year at a cost of £234 per delay based on estimates published in September – £120,475,134 over the course of the 12 months.

The highest number of delays in 2018 was recorded in October with 47,302, while the lowest number of delays occurred in February at 38,394.

After the October high there was a decline to 43,918 delays in November and 42,732 in December.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said work to reduce the number of delays would continue.

“It is encouraging to see delays have fallen over the last few months but we want to go further,” Ms Freeman said.

“That’s why progress on integration must be accelerated.

“Our integration of health and social care, along with our investment, which is rising to more than £700 million this year, will help bring about longer term sustainable improvement.

“To see further improvements as quickly as practicable, we are continuing to work closely with those partnerships facing the most significant challenges to ensure that actions that have been proven to work are adopted in every area.”

Scottish Labour health spokeswoman Monica Lennon, suggested failure to end delayed discharges from hospitals was due to an underfunding of social care.

She said: “Cash-strapped health boards are spending millions keeping people in hospital when they don’t need to be there.

“That’s down to the crisis in social care, which will only be made worse by £230 million worth of real-terms cuts to local government in the SNP-Green budget.

“Scottish Labour would ensure social care gets the staff and funding it needs and in government we would introduce a National Care Workers Guarantee with a commitment to secure hours, a living wage and reimbursement for travel and training time.

“We are serious about protecting our NHS and delivering the real change that our communities need.”