£2m to tackle bed blocking as Scots NHS shows deterioration

New figures revealed 1,190 well patients were stuck in NHS wards. Picture: Greg Macvean
New figures revealed 1,190 well patients were stuck in NHS wards. Picture: Greg Macvean
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Scottish hospitals lost nearly 50,000 hospital bed days to bed blocking in November as shortages of social care placed serious pressure on hospitals.

New figures reveal NHS chiefs have stalled on tackling the crisis as 1,190 well patients were stuck in hospitals due to a lack of social care, according to a census in December.

The statistics show a 6 per cent decline in bed days on the previous month but a 5 per cent rise since June. It comes as figures revealed last month that 270 people died while waiting for care across Scotland, with 12,000 hours of care needs going unmet in just one week.

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Ministers have intervened to speed up progress through a £2 million investment for Edinburgh yesterday, where the performance was the worst in Scotland.

Health secretary Shona Robison said: “We have been clear that reducing delayed discharge is one of our key priorities for the health service. This is a significant challenge and we have committed £100m over three years to help local integration partnerships tackle this issue.

“A good example of this targeted work is the one-off additional investment in Edinburgh will tackle the particular problems here and I look forward to seeing the resulting reduction and easing of pressure across the system.”

Campaigners hailed the funding but said more needs to be done to manage the disconnect between hospitals and social care.

Alison Johnstone, Scottish Greens health spokesperson and a Lothian MSP, said: “Over the last year Edinburgh has struggled with almost £10m overspend on the health and social care budget and even then has carried thousands of hours of unmet care needs each week. Two million pounds extra is welcome but an awful lot more is needed to bridge the gap.”

Most people affected are over 75, and are vulnerable to infection, dependency and depression, said Age Scotland.

Its spokesman said: “Although some areas have improved their delayed discharge figures, others have gone backwards and the picture across Scotland remains pretty stagnant, so much work still needs to be done. Delayed discharges cost the NHS in Scotland millions every month, with knock-on postponements to admissions, transfers and scheduling.”