Bed blocking in Scotland’s hospitals up 9% in year

The number of patients stuck in hospital despite being well enough to leave has increased by 9% in a year, official figures show.

The latest NHS Scotland Information Services Division statistics reveal that, at the February census point, 1,419 people had their discharge from hospital delayed.

It is a 9% increase on the February 2018 census point, when 1,297 people were delayed.

The most common reason for delayed discharge, also known as bed blocking, in February this year was health and social care reasons such as not having a care package in place.

This accounted for 808 patients being stuck in hospital, 72% of the patients delayed for more than three days.

Complex needs was the second most common reason at 267 patients (24%), followed by followed by patient and family-related reasons for 47 patients (4%).

During the month, 40,813 days were spent in hospitals across Scotland by adults whose discharge was delayed, up 6% from the 38,394 days in February 2018.

Labour health spokeswoman Monica Lennon said delayed discharge is an “expensive drain on pressured NHS resources”.

Monica Lennon MSP
Monica Lennon wants more investment in social care (Mark Runnacles/PA Wire)

The MSP added: “Underinvestment in social care continues to prevent people from safely leaving hospital, despite the SNP promising to end delayed discharge.

“It’s time the Scottish Government kept its word and put the dignity and well-being of people in need of social care first.”

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said: “No-one should have to spend unnecessary time in hospital once treatment is complete.

“That is why we are allocating more than £700 million to support social care and integration in 2019-20, helping to reduce delays in the system.

“While many health and social care partnerships are performing well, a small number are accounting for a significant proportion of the delays.

“It’s therefore vital that we continue to share good practice throughout the system.”

She said a recent increase in delays where a court application for guardianship under adults with incapacity legislation is necessary and this is being addressed with new guidance due shortly and a review of the legislation.

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