Fears over bed blocking as delayed discharges double

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THE number of patients left waiting in hospital when well enough to go home has almost doubled in Edinburgh over the past year, new figures reveal.

A total of 188 patients waited three or more days to leave hospital in January this year, with critics blaming a lack of care home places and social support for the rise.

Figures from the Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership (EHSCP) show 71 hospital patients waited three or more days for a space in a care home in January 2017.

Meanwhile, 85 patients waited three or more days for social care to be put in place at home before they could be discharged. A further 12 cases were also recorded.

In January last year, 101 patients were delayed when ready to leave hospital.

Derek Young, senior policy officer at Age Scotland, said the figures showed more needed to be done. “Unnecessarily long stays in hospital mean older people have less ready access to home comforts and their friends, neighbours and family who can help them out, and are more susceptible to acquiring infections,” he said.

“Hospital care also costs much more than services in the community. It was hoped integrating health and care services would break down these barriers, these figures shows more work is required.”

Earlier this year health secretary Shona Robison announced a one-off cash injection of £2 million to tackle the Capital’s social care crisis.

But Green councillor Chas Booth, who obtained the figures, called for more action.

“There is a crisis in care in Edinburgh, with a doubling in numbers waiting in hospital for both care home places and for care in their own homes. That means higher costs for the NHS and older people languishing in hospital,” he said.

Mr Booth said one solution could be paying care workers a Living Wage Plus of at least £9.20 an hour.

“The other is to reduce Edinburgh’s dependence on private sector care providers and enlist more of the city’s own trusted organisations – housing associations, charities and social enterprises – to form a Caring for Edinburgh Coalition.”

The figures come days after health chiefs warned a growing staff “crisis” in Scotland’s care homes was contributing to hospital bed blocking.

Rob McCulloch-Graham, chief officer at EHSCP, said: “The number of people whose discharge from hospital is delayed is a challenge across the country. In Edinburgh most providers of social care services have experienced problems in recruiting sufficient staff to deliver the level of community-based care required across the city.

“We are working hard with care at home providers, care homes and hospitals to reduce delays.”