3 July 2019

The number of people being left stuck in hospital despite being medically fit to leave has increased year-on-year.

The practice, known as delayed discharge, often arises because a social care package - that would allow someone to safely return home or to a community setting - is not in place.

At the May 2019 census point there were 1,451 people stuck in hospital due to their discharge being delayed, an increase of 4 per cent compared to May 2018.

Over the course of the month, a total of 45,061 bed days were lost due to delayed discharges across the health service. The most up to date estimate calculates the average cost of each delay is £234 per day, working out to a total of £10.54 million in May alone.

Of those delayed at the census point in May, 1,181 people were delayed by more than three days.

Three-quarters of these delays were caused by health and social care reasons.

Scottish Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Health, Monica Lennon MSP, said:

“Despite promising to end delayed discharge, people are waiting too long to access social care.

“The SNP Government is failing to turn this around and each delayed discharge is a drain on NHS resources and is needlessly putting people at risk of hospital-acquired infections.

“In the month of May alone this cost our NHS more than £10million - that’s money that could be spent on medicines, more staff and new equipment.

“This is no reflection on the hardworking staff but the performance of our NHS is worsening under Jeane Freeman.

"The integration of health and social care services will not succeed unless SNP Ministers make the right resources available.”

Delayed Discharges in NHS Scotland

In May 2019, there were 45,061 days spent in hospital by people whose discharge was delayed. This is an increase of 4% compared with 43,244 days in May 2018.

In May 2019, the average number of beds occupied per day due to delayed discharges was 1,454. In April, the daily average was 1,366.

At the May 2019 census point, there were 1,451 people delayed. This is an increase of 4% compared with the number of people delayed (1,390) at the census point in May 2018.

Of those delayed at the May 2019 census point, 1,181 were delayed more than three days with health and social care reasons accounting for 884 delays (75%), complex needs accounting for 264 delays (22%) and patient and family-related reasons for 33 delays (3%).

ISD Scotland estimates the average cost for the average cost of each delay.

As of 2016/17 this was £234, equivalent to a total of £10,544,274 in May 2019:

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