Cole-Hamilton reveals 5 year wait for patient to be discharged from hospital


Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton has today revealed the longest waits experienced by patients forced to stay in hospital after doctors have declared them ready to leave including a patient in Tayside who had to wait more than five years to be discharged. 

Figures uncovered by Scottish Liberal Democrats through freedom of information requests reveal: 

  • The longest waits included a patient in Tayside waiting 1,835 days to be discharged, 1,177 days in Forth Valley and 617 days in Dumfries & Galloway; 
  • In 2020/21, more than 2,443 patients had to wait more than three weeks to be discharged from hospital; 
  • In total, across 12 health boards, 14,178 patients experienced delayed discharge in 2020/21; 
  • The longest average waits for patients to be discharged were in Dumfries & Galloway and Highland.

Recent figures from Public Health Scotland showed 1 in 14 (7.0%) beds in NHS Scotland were occupied by people who were delayed in their discharge, of whom 66% were due to health and social care reasons such as care packages not being available. Public Health Scotland estimates the cost of delayed discharges in NHS Scotland amounted to £142 million last year, with an average daily bed cost of £262. 

Mr Cole-Hamilton commented: 

“Delayed discharges have a huge impact on patients and their families. Once you are declared fit to leave, there is nothing more disheartening than being forced to wait in a hospital as the days tick by. 

“Delayed discharges involve eye-watering sums of money for the NHS and in the majority of cases it is an entirely avoidable problem. Most people are waiting on a care home place, social care support to enable them to live in their own home or for an assessment to be conducted. 

“It has been a full five years since the SNP’s target to end delayed discharges was missed. Despite plan after plan ministers haven’t managed to make a dent in the problem. It is time they delivered a step change in social care pay and conditions to open up the options for moving people out of hospital and into more suitable care as soon as they are ready. 

“Scottish Liberal Democrats will continue to press the Scottish Government to deliver new hope for patients and staff across the health service.” 


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