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Charity calls for urgent investment as delayed discharges soar to highest this year

3rd September 2019

The Scottish Government's failure to "get a grip" on delayed discharges is seriously harming older people's health, Age Scotland warned today.

The charity is calling for urgent investment in health and care services, as the latest figures show an "eye-watering" total of almost 1,500 patients stuck in hospital unnecessarily each day in July. This is the highest number since October last year.

A total of 45,396 "bed days" were occupied by patients who were well enough to be discharged, costing Scottish taxpayers around £10.6 million.

The vast majority of these are older patients 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 news coincides with staff shortages in the NHS reaching their highest levels since 2007. ISD figures released today (SEPT 3) show that there were more than 4000 nursing and midwifery vacancies in June, as well as more than 500 consultant vacancies. More than half of consultant vacancies had been open for more than six months.

Delayed discharges were highest in Lothian (8145 bed days), Lanarkshire (7,083), Greater Glasgow & Clyde (6014) and Ayrshire & Arran (4681).

Brian Sloan, Chief Executive of Age Scotland, 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.”

The latest statistics can be found at -

https://www.isdscotland.org/Health-Topics/Health-and-Social-Community-Care/Publications/data-tables2017.asp?id=2490#2490

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