Dugdale says NHS Lothian in '˜crisis' over delayed discharge rise

Former Labour leader Kezia Dugdale has accused the Health Secretary of broken promises over delayed discharge, with figures having soared at hospitals across NHS Lothian.

Health Secretary Shona Robison. Picture: Greg Macvean
Health Secretary Shona Robison. Picture: Greg Macvean

Data released by Ms Dugdale’s office has revealed more than 10,000 days were spent in Lothian hospitals by people whose discharge was delayed in February.

In NHS Lothian, 10,428 days were spent in hospital by people whose discharge was delayed.

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This is an increase of 15 per cent compared with the 9,049 days spent during the same period last year.

The alarming figure comes after Health secretary Shona Robison vowed in 2015: “I want over the course of this year to eradicate delayed discharge out of the system and I am absolutely determined to do that.”

The number of occupied bed days for NHS Lothian far outstripped any other health board, making up more than a quarter of Scotland’s total.

It is the highest figure for NHS Lothian since 2015.

The crisis at the accident-and-emergency department in the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh has also worsened. Just 57.9 per cent of patients were seen within the target four hours in the week ending 25 March.

The alarming figure was the worst of any hospital in Scotland.

The country’s average stands at 88.3 per cent.

Ms Dugdale said: “Shona Robison’s broken promise on delayed discharge has cost Scottish taxpayers hundreds of millions of pounds, which could have been reinvested in our NHS to deliver better patient care and staff support.

“NHS Lothian is the epicentre of the crisis, with more than 10,000 days spent in hospital by people whose discharge was delayed in February.

“Much of the delay in discharging patients is due to social care issues and delays in care assessments – the result of years of an SNP government slashing local authority budgets, with Edinburgh City Council facing financial pressures again this year.

“The A&E department at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh has been underperforming for far too long, but these latest figures are simply unacceptable.”

“The SNP has left our doctors and nurses over-worked, under-valued and under-resourced. Shona Robison is letting patients and NHS staff down in the Lothians, and she needs to urgently tackle this crisis.”

The Scottish Government pointed out 38,394 days were spent in hospital by people whose discharge was delayed across the whole of NHS Scotland, down from 40,246 in February last year – a 5 per cent decrease.

Mr Robison said: “It is encouraging to see continued decreases in these figures, with the total number of days spent in hospital, average number of beds being occupied and people being delayed all down significantly on this time last year.

“These figures cover a period when our hospitals undoubtedly experienced significant additional demands due to the pressures we know winter brought. Staff deserve huge thanks for their work in supporting anyone experiencing a delay and also patients themselves for their patience and understanding.

“Against the progress we continue to see, I expect boards to keep working hard to ensure no patient has to spend unnecessary extra time in hospital – when treatment is complete patients should be discharged as soon as it is safe and appropriate to do so.

“To support that, we have transferred nearly half a billion pounds from the NHS into social care and integration this financial year, and the health budget will increase by almost £2 billion by the end of this Parliament.”

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