Scottish Liberal Democrats reveal patients waiting years on “miserable” delayed discharge

Scottish Liberal Democrats have today revealed patients stuck in hospital on delayed discharge for hundreds days after they were declared ready to leave, branding the situation “miserable".

Freedom of information requests by the party have uncovered the longest periods patients across the country had their discharge from hospital delayed for health and social care reasons during 2018/19.

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 more than a year in Lothian, Dumfries and Galloway (391 days), Fife (447 days) and the Borders (680 days).
  • At least one patient discharged in Tayside during 2018/19 who had waited more than 2 years.
  • A patient who at the end of 2018/19 was still waiting to be discharged in the Borders, despite having been declared ready to leave 1,373 days prior - a case that the health board described as “very complex”.

All these delays were attributed to ‘health and social care reasons’, meaning they involved patients waiting on a care home place, support to enable them to return to their own home or for a needs assessment to be conducted.

Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP said:

“Keeping someone in hospital unnecessarily for a year costs the NHS almost £100,000. 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.

“Even more damaging is the crushing cost to patients’ wellbeing. Conditions worsen and critical opportunities to rebuild their lives are lost. It’s miserable.

“Medical staff have declared these people ready to leave hospital but the community-based support they need to move on simply doesn’t exist. These are factors within this government’s control. Indeed, the SNP Government promised to eradicate delayed discharges from the system by 2016.

“It’s time to end the social care scandal. Staff are working tirelessly but there just aren’t enough of them to go around. The SNP’s new workforce plan, published a whole year late, must now make demonstratable progress. Furthermore, we simply can’t afford for existing staff to be driven away by the Conservative’s damaging Brexit, so Boris Johnson must now step up too.”

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