Audit shows delayed discharge challenge for critical care

Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP today said it is no surprise that staff shortages and delayed discharges are taking its toll on every part of the NHS, after a new audit report highlighted critical care units struggling with demand and obstructions.

The annual report by the Scottish Intensive Care Society Audit Group showed:

  • Delayed discharges from critical care continue to be a challenge for units, with 46% of discharges in 2018 delayed by over 4 hours.
  • This is mostly the result of bed shortages in other areas of the hospital. Frequently, delayed discharge of patients from acute hospital beds is caused by a lack of social care in the community.
  • Overall in Scotland, 6,969 bed-days were occupied in ICU and combined units due to delays in discharging patients.
  • There is also increasing evidence that some areas of Scotland still have inadequate critical care capacity.
  • Health boards highlighted staffing shortages in some areas with difficulty in filling medical and nursing staff posts.

Alex-Cole Hamilton MSP commented:

“Hospitals are getting stacked up all the way to critical care because there isn’t enough capacity to take care of people in the community. They are occupying beds long after they have been declared ready to leave.

“People simply aren’t flowing through the hospital in the way that they should. The lack of staff and scarcity of community care packages comes at vast expense to both the NHS and patients, with its implications stretching right up to the highest dependency services.

“The SNP promised to eradicate delayed discharges in 2015 but all the evidence points to problems deepening.

“In addition to publishing the long overdue integrated workforce plan, the Scottish Liberal Democrats want to see the Health Secretary publish an annual report on workforce planning and lead an annual debate on it at Parliament. That way future shortages can be spotted and sorted out before they happen, and health professionals won’t be the ones left to pick up the pieces.”

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