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Staggering increase in delayed discharges

Published on 08 September 2021 09:42 AM

Age Scotland, the national charity for older people, has warned that delayed discharge figures published today suggest risk of return to ‘staggering and unacceptable’ pre-pandemic levels.

The latest statistics from Public Health Scotland show that 1,363 people had their discharge from hospital delayed at the July 2021 census point, a 7% increase from June 2021 (1,276) and an increase of 41% compared to July 2020 (961). Of those, 897 were people over the age of 75.

The majority of delays among over 75s were due to lack of health and social care provision, which accounted for 73% (657) of all delays for this age group and 69% of overall delays.

A total of 42,364 “bed days” were occupied by patients who were well enough to be discharged, with patients over the age of 75 accounting for 66% (28,047) of these.

Age Scotland’s Chief Executive Brian Sloan said:

“This is a staggering increase and almost back to levels not seen since before the pandemic. Despite being medically fit to leave hospital, the huge numbers of older people who do not yet have the necessary social care in place to do so safely is of real cause for concern.

“The pressure on social care across Scotland has probably never been so severe and demonstrates how vital it is and why much more investment is required. Many older people have had their social care packages reduced or removed as a result of the pandemic, with some yet to return to what is needed.

“We know that a prolonged and unnecessary stay in hospital can have a severe impact on their strength, balance, frailty and mental health with an extra three weeks stuck on a ward ageing an older person by 30 years. These unacceptable levels of delayed discharge also come with a huge cost to the NHS, so boosting the availability to social care in the community has tremendous financial benefits. Of course, this is easier said than done.

“Our worry now is that the situation looks set to get even more challenging before it gets better.

“It’s critical that we see increased recruitment and investment to support health and social care in coping with the growing demands of an ageing population, as well as better integration and social care services that are more robust and able to serve everyone who needs them. It is our hope this will be possible with the introduction of a National Care Service.”

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Notes to editors:

Contact Age Scotland's media team:

Age Scotland provides a seven day a week response service to media enquiries through a dedicated telephone line and email.

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