Health Secretary pledges improvement in bed blocking figures

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Scotland health secretary has said delayed discharge performance “needs to improve” after as official figures revealed the problem is increasing.

Statistics show a 15% year-on-year increase in the number of patients well enough to be discharged but unable to leave due to health and social care reasons, such as a care package not being in place.

At the August census point 1,165 (75%) patients with delayed discharge, also known as bed blocking, were for health and social care reasons, up from 1,015 at the same time last year and 1,100 the previous month.

More than a fifth, 263 (22%) were due to complex needs and 36 (3%) for patient and family-related reasons.

A total of 43,913 days were spent in hospital due to delayed discharge in August, up 5% on the same month the previous year.

“When patients are trapped in hospital, sometimes for hundreds of nights on end, their condition can worsen and opportunities to rebuild their lives are lost,” Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesman Alex Cole-Hamilton said.

“That is why the Health Secretary should set out the Scottish Government’s plans for reducing avoidable delayed discharges and the progress they expect to be made tackling it over the coming months.”

The Scottish Greens are calling for Scottish Ministers to “speed up action” on social care staffing, including boosting pay to aid worker recruitment and retention.

The party’s health spokeswoman Alison Johnstone said: “Too many people are stuck in hospital waiting for a care package, home or transport adaptation, or place in a care home, causing them and their families added stress.

“The Scottish Government is moving too slowly on the integration of health and social care, and needs to speed up action to tackle the lack of staff, which the Tories’ Brexit crisis isn’t helping.”

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said: “There are 11 partnerships who record standard delays of over three days in single figures.

“While this is encouraging we must also recognise that some partnerships are not performing as well, with five accounting for around half the total number of delays.

“I am clear that delayed discharge performance needs to improve, and we are working with the boards who are facing the most significant pressures.”

She said integration of health and social care would help make long-term sustainable progress in reducing delayed discharge and the government had transferred nearly half a billion pounds from the NHS to social care and integration this financial year.

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