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Hospital delayed discharge figures “out-of-control”

Published on 17 September 2019 05:19 PM

Scotland’s leading charity for older people, Age Scotland, has described NHS Scotland figures on delayed discharge from hospital as “spiraling out of control” and has called for a review of health and care provision across the country.

Figures released today (Tuesday 17 September) have shown that delayed hospital discharges across Scotland have increased by 6% between 2017/18 and 2018/19. This accounts for 1 in 12 beds in NHSScotland being occupied by people who do not need to be in hospital, but cannot yet be discharged for varied reasons.

The figures follow news last week which revealed that nearly 500 people died in Scottish hospitals last year while waiting to be discharged.

Today’s NHS Scotland report also highlights that of those delayed, 69% were aged 75 and over.

Commenting on the figures, Age Scotland’s Chief Executive Brian Sloan said:

“A 6% rise in delayed hospital discharged in one year is substantial and puts more older people at risk of mobility loss, infection, and loneliness for every day they’re needlessly stuck in hospital.

“These figures are deeply worrying, but not surprising. They reinforce what we’ve been saying for the last year, which is that social care is under immense pressure. On average, 78% of delays were due to health and social care reasons, with 26% of delays due to people waiting for care home availability, and 16% of delay reasons due to awaiting a community care assessment. Our Waiting For Care report, published this summer, found that 4 in 10 older people are waiting longer than the recommended guidelines for care they are entitled to and desperately need.

“Many people end up in hospital for weeks, and some quite possibly spending the end of their lives feeling isolated on hospital wards instead of in the comfort of familiar surroundings. If this number of children were stuck on hospital wards then there would quite rightly be a national outrage.

“On top of the significant human impact, delayed discharge has a huge financial cost too. NHSScotland’s own figures show it costs £248 per day to keep someone in hospital when their discharge has been delayed, which is £122 million per year across Scotland. That’s money that could be spent on social care at home.

“We know that health and social care staff are doing their utmost best and don’t want to see older people stuck in hospital when they do not need to be there. 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.

“Despite the Scottish Government’s repeated promises to tackle delayed discharges, these figures show that the problem is spiralling out of control. We urgently need more investment in our social care system, so that every older person can access the care they are entitled to. We accept there’s already been significant investment in recent months – but people will rightly be wondering where this money has been spent, and how long it will be before this embarrassing state of affairs improves. The Scottish Government and integrated boards across Scotland need to sit down and look again at what is going on and then take decisive action to reverse these worrying trends.”

In 2017/18 the estimated cost of delayed discharges in NHSScotland was £122 million, with an estimated average daily cost of £248. This is outrageously more expensive than social care which sees Local Authorities paying roughly the same amount (£253) per week for personal and nursing care.

-- Ends --

Notes to editors


Delayed Discharges in NHS Scotland Annual summary of occupied bed days and census figures Figures up to March 2019 - Read report here

For more Information

Contact the Age Scotland Media team

Telephone: 0131 668 0364 / 07801 500 663 / communications@agescotland.org.uk

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

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