Dementia patients waiting more than three months for Scottish care home place as delayed discharges rise

More dementia patients are spending time in hospital waiting for specialist beds in care homes, with the rates of delayed discharge approaching pre-pandemic levels, new figures show.

These patients are usually awaiting a bed in a care home where there is a “dementia bed required”, with some waiting longer than 12 weeks to be moved from hospital, according to analysis by pro-UK campaign group Scotland in Union.

Pamela Nash, the group’s chief executive, said the public deserved better from a Scottish Government she said “only cares about the constitution”.

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Overall, the number of dementia patients facing a delayed discharge has continued to rise, with an average number of 41.8 patients stuck in hospital this year – higher than pre-pandemic figures.

The figures show that in May 2019, the number of similar cases sat at 42, compared with 13 at the same time last year.

Last year the average monthly figure was just under 23 patients awaiting discharge, with it sitting at 19.8 in 2020 and 37.7 in 2019.

The figures come from NHS Scotland’s information services division’s latest monthly delayed discharge report.

Some dementia patients are waiting weeks to be discharged to a care home.
Some dementia patients are waiting weeks to be discharged to a care home.
Some dementia patients are waiting weeks to be discharged to a care home.

Ms Nash said: “The domestic problems over which the SNP has sole control are mounting and yet there is no plan to do anything about it.

“For years the SNP has been warned about the challenges posed by an ageing population, but these have been roundly dismissed by a complacent and arrogant government.

“Now we see dozens of the most vulnerable patients stranded in hospitals because the specialist facilities to help them just aren’t available.

“That will only harm their welfare, and places more strain on hard-pressed hospital staff who are already at breaking point.

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“As part of the UK, Scotland can invest more than ever in our NHS to make sure we’re best placed to deal with the many challenges we face.

“That’s what the Scottish Government should be focused on, not inflicting more chaos and division on the people of Scotland while vital public services are ignored.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said any decision to discharge a patient should be a clinical one and not one taken or directed by the Government.

The spokesperson said: “Being at home or in a community setting is in the best interests of anyone who no longer has any clinical need to be in hospital. We continue to take national action to help ensure that people with dementia avoid hospital admissions and readmissions – and are discharged timeously.

“We co-fund Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Consultants in NHS boards to provide expert advice on dementia care issues within acute, community and mental health hospital settings, as well as wider community locations, including care homes.

“We also fund national dementia workforce programmes to help strengthen care and support for people with dementia across all care setting and we have invested an additional £3.5 million a year in dementia post-diagnostic support.

“We have continued to work with health and social care partnerships to reduce delays in people leaving hospital, ensure that people are cared for in the right setting and hospital beds are there for those who need them.

“Ministers continue to meet regularly with the partnerships facing the most significant challenges to discuss progress and challenges.”

The first episode of the brand new limited series podcast, How to be an independent country: Scotland’s Choices, is out now.

It is available wherever you get your podcasts, including Apple Podcasts and Spotify.



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