The number of days spent in hospital by people whose discharge was delayed has fallen compared to a year earlier, according to official figures.

Statistics published by ISD Scotland show there were 46,240 days spent in hospital by those with a delayed discharge in October 2019.

It represents a decrease of two per cent on the number of days in October last year, when the figure was 47,302.

READ MORE: Age Scotland concern over “out-of-control” hospital discharge delay figures

The average number of beds occupied per day due to delayed discharges also fell from 1,521 in September this year to 1,492 in October.

At the October 2019 census point, there were a total of 1,525 people delayed – similar to the number of people delayed, 1,542, at the same point in the previous year.

Of those delayed at the most recent census point, 1,238 were delayed for more than three days, with health and social care reasons accounting for 940 delays, complex needs accounting for 272 delays  and patient and family-related reasons for 26 delays

Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesman Alex Cole-Hamilton said NHS staff must be given more support by the Scottish Government.

“Hospitals are getting congested all the way up to critical care because there isn’t enough capacity to take care of people in the community,” he said.

“Every day there are more than 1,000 people stuck in hospital unnecessarily.

“The Health Secretary should be embarrassed that so many patients are stuck in hospital when they’re well enough to be cared for in the community, only that care doesn’t exist.”

He added: “Staff are working tirelessly but there just aren’t enough of them to go around.

“They need much more support from the SNP Government, given it promised to eradicate delayed discharges years ago.

“That must start with the publication of the integrated workforce plan they were promised by the Health Secretary but which is now a year late.”

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said: “Compared to October 2016, delays in people leaving hospital is down by 4% in October 2019.

“People should not have to spend unnecessary time in hospital once treatment is complete.

“That is why we are investing more than £700 million this year to support social care and integration.”

She added: “Progress has been made in reducing delays – bed days lost are down by one per cent overall since 2016/17.

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“However, we want to go further with our partners in local government, the NHS and in integration authorities to address where delays have increased and work to improve performance.

“The ongoing integration of health and social care has been key to achieving progress in recent years, with integration authorities now responsible for nearly £9 billion of funding previously managed separately by Health Boards and Councils.

“We have established an Expert Support Group, made up of clinical and social care professionals, to work with those health and social care partnerships facing the most significant challenges and ensure sustainable progress can be achieved.”