Scottish Government urged to “get a grip” on delayed discharges

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New figures showed almost 1,500 patients were stuck in hospital unnecessarily each day in July.

3rd September 2019 by Gavin Stuart 1 Comment

The Scottish Government’s failure to “get a grip” on delayed discharges is seriously harming older people’s health, a charity has warned.

Age Scotland is calling for urgent investment in health and care services after new figures showed almost 1,500 patients were stuck in hospital unnecessarily each day in July.

The statistics, from Scotland’s Information Services Division (ISD), revealed that a total of 45,396 “bed days” last year were occupied by patients who were well enough to be discharged, at a cost to the taxpayer of more than £10m.

Age Scotland said the majority of these patients were older people who were delayed due to health and social care reasons. An average of 1,182 people are stuck in hospital each day waiting for care in their communities, putting them at risk of mobility loss, infection, and loneliness and isolation.

The ISD figures also show NHS Scotland staffing shortages at their highest levels since 2007, with more than 4000 nursing and midwifery vacancies in June.

Age Scotland is now calling for a major recruitment drive and investment in services to ensure older people get the care they need.

Brian Sloan, the charity’s chief executive, said: “Despite repeated promises to tackle delayed discharges, the problem is only getting worse. The latest eye-watering figures show that the Scottish Government is clearly not getting a grip on this issue.

“It’s heart-breaking to think of almost 1200 older people stuck in hospital beds each day, at risk of mobility loss, infection, and loneliness, because of a lack of care in their communities. Older people tell us they are afraid of going into hospital in case they never leave. If this number of children were stuck on hospital wards then there would quite rightly be a national outrage.

“At the same time, this is adding to the pressure on our over-stretched NHS, as nursing and consultancy vacancies soar to record levels. Staff are working tirelessly to help patients, but they simply don’t have the support and resources they need.

“We urgently need more recruitment and investment in health and social care, and better integration between services. Our Waiting for Care report shows just how hard it is for older people to get the social care they desperately need. This could only get worse if Brexit results in the predicted shortages of health and social care staff.”

4th September 2019 by Peter Jung

It strikes me as no coincidence that the NHS is struggling after years of 'efficiencies' and static funding in the Social Care sector. A fully rounded Health and Social Care offer will see the NHS taking care of people who are unwell before discharging any on-going support to Social Care providers. This process, however, is broken as Social Care providers struggle in the face of financial uncertainty leading to delayed discharges and bed blocking. A better funded Social Care provision will ease pressure on the NHS allowing it to do what it does best. Fund Social Care better and you fix the cause not just tinker with the symptom.