SCOTLAND'S leading charity for older people has called for a review of health and care provision across the country saying the number of patients suffering delays in being discharged from hospital is "spiralling out of control".

Age Scotland are concerned that 'delayed discharges" have risen by by 6% between 2017/18 and 2018/19.

The charity says this accounts for 1 in 12 beds in NHS Scotland being occupied by people who do not need to be in hospital, but cannot yet be discharged for varied reasons.

The figures come after it emerged last week that 474 patients, mainly older people,  died in Scottish hospitals waiting to be discharged last year, up by 20% annually.

Nearly one in five of of cases was in NHS Lothian, where 86 people died while waiting for care arrangements to be put in place that would allow them to leave hospital.

A Freedom of Information request by the charity revealed that of those that died the vast majority (423) were waiting for health and social care packages to be put in place.

The latest NHS Scotland report highlighted 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.

READ MORE: Nearly 500 patients die in Scottish hospitals while waiting to go home

“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.

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"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.”

The charity said that in 2017/18 the estimated cost of delayed discharges in NHSScotland was £122 million, with an estimated average daily cost of £248.

It said that that was "outrageously more expensive" than social care which sees local authorities paying roughly the same amount (£253) per week for personal and nursing care.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Progress has been made in reducing delays in discharge in recent years, with an overall reduction of 1% in the number of bed days lost since 2016/17. However, we need to do more with our partners in local government, the NHS, and in integration authorities to address where delays have increased and work to improve performance.

“It is vital that local health and social care partnerships keep developing a range of community based services which allow people to stay in their homes.

"We continue to invest in social care and integration. This year our package of investment to support these services will exceed £700 million - up from £550 million in 2018/19 - and as our Programme for Government set out, we will continue our review to improve social care.”