A FURTHER £100 million will be invested in the NHS over the next three years to help cut the numbers of people waiting to be discharged from hospital, the Scottish Government has announced.
Ministers have said tackling the problem of delayed discharges is a top priority for the administration at Holyrood.
The money will be used to help health boards and local authorities deliver care and support for people at home or in a similar setting.
The move is aimed at preventing delays in discharge, as well as preventing admissions to hospital and attendances at A&E.
It is hoped that, together, the measures will reduce pressure across the system.
Health Secretary Shona Robison said: “Tackling delayed discharge is an absolute key priority for this government and today’s announcement of £100 million over the next three years is crucial to this effort.
“Reducing delayed discharge not only helps individual patients, who benefit from getting home or to a homely setting as quickly as possible, but also helps ease pressure across the system.”
Of the £100 million funding package, £30 million will be invested in 2015/16, while £35 million will be allocated in 2016/17 and again in 2017/18.
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The 2015/16 funding will come from Barnett consequentials, with the remaining £70 million coming from subsequent health budgets.
Ms Robison added: “This is about far more than just investment, it forms part of the Government’s overarching commitment to implementing the integration of health and social care services across Scotland.
“This will involve health boards working closer than ever with local government in a new relationship to deliver the right care to people in the right place at the right time.
“It will also include a shared commitment to deliver on key issues, such as discharging patients within 72 hours of clinical readiness, and reducing the number of hospital admissions that are avoidable.
“Today’s announcement builds on the significant progress made to devise new and innovative ways to improve the flow of patients through health and care services.
“We will continue to support this work, together with our partners in the NHS and local government, to reshape the health and social care system as we work towards integration coming into force in April.”
A taskforce has been set up with council body Cosla to roll out the plans to tackle delayed discharge.
Cosla’s health and well-being spokesman, Councillor Peter Johnston, said: “This is a timely investment from the Scottish Government - amidst a challenging operating environment for councils and health boards.”
The funding announcement comes in a month when hospital accident and emergency departments came under considerable pressure due to high levels of demand, leading to extended waiting times in some places and the postponement of some planned medical procedures.
And yesterday, a council and health board were told to make urgent improvements in a bid to tackle the problem of bed-blocking.
A joint inspection of services for older people said the performance of Fife Partnership - which includes Fife Council and NHS Fife - to ensure elderly patients are discharged when they are well enough to leave was ‘’mixed’’.
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