Scottish Liberal Democrats reveal “national scandal” of longest delayed discharges

The Scottish Liberal Democrats today revealed patients have been in hospital on delayed discharge up to 500 days after they were declared ready to leave, labelling the situation “a national scandal”.

Freedom of information requests by party have uncovered the longest periods patients across the country had their discharge from hospital delayed for health and social care reasons between 2013 and 2016.

The investigation found patients spending hundreds of nights in hospital when they didn’t need to be there due to a lack of available support in the community, including patients waiting:

  • 508 days in Dumfries and Galloway
  • 418 days in Fife, with a patient declared ready for medical discharge in 2014 not leaving hospital until 2016
  • 408 days in Highland

‘Health and social care reasons’ include patients waiting on a care home place, social care support to enable them to live in their own home and those waiting on a needs assessment to be conducted.

The party’s health spokesperson, Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP, said:

“In November I asked the First Minister about a constituent of mine who had spent 150 nights in hospital due to delayed discharge. Nicola Sturgeon described the situation as unacceptable.

“What then are we to make of patients in hospital for up to 500 nights, perhaps because carers can’t be found to visit them at home or there isn’t a care home place available?

“Under the SNP, 1,000 beds were lost from Scotland's hospitals during the same three years. Our under pressure NHS can ill afford delayed discharges on this extreme scale.”

Cllr Karen Clark, Scottish Liberal Democrat social care spokesperson, commented:

“For someone to be needlessly stuck in hospital for up to eighteen months is nothing short of a national scandal.

“Medical staff had declared these patients ready to leave. Seeing care packages fall through, time after time, causes patients and their families immense stress. And there can be no doubt that someone spending such a prolonged time in hospital when they should be at home will impair their mental and physical health.

“These statistics show the scale of the task that integrated joint boards faced when they took over. We urgently need to know what steps these boards and SNP ministers have taken to ensure that such waits are eliminated from the system.”

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