£100m pledged to ease Scots NHS bed-blocking

MINISTERS have pledged ­£100 million to tackle Scotland’s bed-blocking crisis, to be invested in Scotland’s NHS over the next three years.

Health secretary Shona Robison said reducing bed-blocking was an absolute key priority for the Scottish Government. Picture: Greg Macvean
Health secretary Shona Robison said reducing bed-blocking was an absolute key priority for the Scottish Government. Picture: Greg Macvean

Bed-blocking, or delayed discharge, happens when patients are ready to leave hospital but cannot do so for reasons such as having no care-home place or support services to look after them.

Health secretary Shona ­Robison yesterday said reducing bed-blocking was an “absolute key priority” for the Scottish Government, as she announced the £100m on top of £10m ­committed last year to alleviate the problem.

The new cash will be used to help health boards and local authorities deliver care and support packages for people at home or in a similar setting, who would otherwise have to remain in hospital.

Scotland’s hospitals had 154,588 bed-days occupied by delayed-discharge patients, who were classed as clinically ready to move on to a more appropriate care setting, between July and September 2014.

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Ms Robison said: “Tackling delayed discharge is an absolute key priority for this government and today’s announcement is crucial to this effort.”

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Theresa Fyffe, Scotland director of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) union, welcomed the new funds. She said: “This additional money will help ease this and should mean patients who are clinically ready to leave hospital will not be delayed for days or weeks, but will have a care package in place or a place in a care home to enable them to leave hospital safely.”

Campaigners have expressed concerns that financial pressure on public services is adding to the problem of patients waiting for outside support to be organised before they leave ­hospital, with remote areas ­facing ­particular difficulties.

Margaret Watt, chairwoman of the Scotland Patients Association, said the government had consistently failed to ensure there was enough “back-up” in council support services and from occupational therapists for people who were ready to be discharged from hospitals.

She said: “It’s not about putting money into the NHS. It’s about putting the services together.

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“People say they want to be home, but they are stuck in hospital beds because there are no care packages. They don’t want to be in the hospital beds, but there are just not enough services providing back-up.

“I was in hospital recently and there were people there who had been there for months, despite being ready to leave.”

Scottish Labour’s health spokeswoman Jenny Marra said: “Shona Robison has said that delayed discharge is her biggest priority so why did she wait so long to put this investment in?”

Meanwhile, Ms Robison was accused of “gross discourtesy” by Holyrood’s Presiding Officer ­Tricia Marwick for not making the funding announcement in the parliament.

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