Rise in number of patients stuck in hospital due to bed blocking
The number of patients stuck in hospital despite being medically cleared to leave has risen by nine per cent compared to last year.
Latest figures from NHS stats body Information Services Division show 1,419 people had their discharge from hospital delayed in February, up from 1,297 in February 2018.
The numbers fluctuate from month to month, peaking in October last year at 1,542.
Total days lost to ‘bed blocking’ was 40,813 during the month.
The Scottish Government pledged to “eradicate” delayed discharge in 2015 with a £100m investment, but there has been no indication of progress since.
Eileen McKenna, associate director of the Royal College of Nursing in Scotland, said: “The figures published today show that too many people are having operations cancelled or are having to stay in hospital longer than is necessary due to the pressures on our health and social care services. This is distressing for patients, their families and for the nursing staff who care for them.
“With over 3,000 nursing staff vacancies within NHS Scotland and an estimated vacancy level of almost 20 per cent in the care home sector, staffing levels undoubtedly play a part and are having an impact on the quality of care.
“The Health and Care (Staffing) (Scotland) Bill before the Scottish Parliament is an opportunity to ensure Scotland has the right number of nursing staff, with the right skills and experience across our communities.”
Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said some integrated authorities were performing better than others.
“No-one should have to spend unnecessary time in hospital once treatment is complete,” she said.
“That is why we are allocating more than £700m 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.”
Scottish Labour’s shadow health secretary Monica Lennon said: “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 wellbeing of people in need of social care first.
“Delayed discharge is an expensive drain on pressured NHS resources and can expose people to hospital infections when they could be recuperating at home.”