Hume warns of hospital delayed discharge problems

Jim Hume, Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson and MSP for South Scotland, has welcomed additional funding aimed at tackling ‘bed blocking’, but has warned that ministers must get a grip of the problem of delayed discharge.

Figures revealed that during the quarter July to September 2014, 154,588 bed days were occupied by delayed discharge patients.

This compares with 126,531 delayed discharge patients during the quarter July to September 2013.

At the October 2014 census, 321 patients were delayed over four weeks despite being clinically ready to leave hospital. This compares with 274 at the July 2014 census and 156 at the October 2013 census.

Almost three quarters of bed days occupied by delayed discharges were by patients aged 75 and over.

The rise in bed blocking comes at a time when boarding is reported to have soared to 3,000 patients, geriatric beds have been cut by a third since 2010 and emergency admissions for older people are at their highest in a decade.

Jim Hume MSP said: “Of course we welcome the addition funding, but patients two years ago will wonder why this money was not available sooner given the size of the bed blocking problem.

“We know that from July to September 2014 154,588 bed days across Scotland’s hospitals were occupied by patients who were clinically ready to leave, up from 126,531 during July to September 2013.

“Locally, this means that across Dumfries and Galloway up to the quarter July to September 2014, there were 3216 bed days attributed to delayed discharge patients.

“The SNP have taken their eye off the ball on the NHS, and with patients aged 75 and over accounting for three quarters of bed days occupied by delayed patients it seems SNP mismanagement is failing Scotland’s older people. While Scottish Liberal Democrats support moves to treat more people in their own settings, ministers have bottle-necked our hospitals by cutting beds without subsequently increasing community care.

“The real test now will be whether the SNP can get a grip of the problem of delayed discharges and stop the worsening crisis.”