Surge in bed blocking raises fear of winter hospitals crisis

BED blocking in Scotland's hospitals has risen by 17 per cent in the last year, according to latest figures.

There were a total of 776 delayed discharges in Scotland in October, compared with 708 in July and 662 a year ago, official health statistics have shown.

Of these 128 patients were delayed for more than six weeks, compared with 62 in July, after this had dropped below zero.

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A Scottish Government spokeswoman said that in October 2006, under the previous Labour/Lib Dem administration, 679 patients were delayed in hospital for longer than six weeks. But she added: "The current position is not good enough.

Great progress has been made and the zero standard has been achieved at the last three April census points. However, that is the standard that should be met at all times and we expect partnerships to return to that position soon."

Labour health spokeswoman Jackie Baillie said: "This failure represents another broken promise for the SNP and the increasing number of blocked beds leaves our hospitals more exposed to a winter beds crisis."