Richard Leonard: Plan needed to end delayed hospital discharges

The Scottish Government must “snap out of its complacency” and put an end to delayed discharges, Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard has said.

Pointing towards figures published this week indicating that there were over a million lost bed days in Scotland last year, Mr Leonard said that a plan must be delivered to properly address the issue.

In 2015, the Scottish Government’s health secretary at the time, Shona Robison, said that she wanted to “eradicate” avoidable delayed discharges in hospitals.

Mr Leonard said: “The scale of this problem is such that the number of people stuck in hospitals last year who did not need to be there would have filled the equivalent of every bed in Scotland’s biggest hospital, the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, every day for 326 days.

“No wonder that this is having a significant impact on A&E waiting times and cancelled operations right across the country. There is a human cost too, with patients left in distress and discomfort.

“The SNP has to listen to patients and staff, snap out of its complacency, and finally deliver a plan to end delayed discharge.”

Deputising for Nicola Sturgeon at First Minister’s Questions on Thursday, John Swinney said that an increase in funding for health and social care integration would help to address the issue.

Mr Swinney said: “We are increasing the resources available to social care integration within the community.

“We’ve put £160 million more into health and social care integration. These are the judgments that the Government is making within a very challenging financial environment.

“We do that because we recognise it is better for individuals to be supported within the home or within a community setting than it is to be in a hospital when they do not need to be in that hospital.

“It’s entirely appropriate for them to be in hospital at particular stages, but we must support individuals through that journey.”

The Deputy First Minister indicated that he is confident that further investment, along with joint-working provision, will deliver a reduction in delayed discharges.

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