One of the country’s largest health boards is at odds with the Scottish Government after an internal email revealed patients on delayed discharge will be sent home from hospital without an appropriate care package in place.
NHS Lothian, who were at the centre of a new A&E waiting times scandal earlier this month, which saw reporting guidelines breached at hospitals in the region now plan to send patients home to “await assessment for any additional support”.
This puts them at loggerheads once again with the Scottish Government who say their policy on delayed discharge also known as ‘bed blocking’ is for local authorities to ensure support is provided.
In their most recent papers the Edinburgh Integrated Joint Board admitted that the city regularly has the highest number of delayed discharges in Scotland with local contracted providers reporting high turnover rates of care staff in the region of 30 to 50 per cent in some instances. This comes on the back of a proposed £3 million worth of savings to be made to the city’s care budget for 2018/19 and continued pressure to meet NHS targets.
Jacquie Campbell, chief officer of acute services, NHS Lothian, said: “If patients are clinically fit for discharge and are awaiting straightforward social support, they can wait at home in familiar surroundings, rather than in a busy, acute hospital, such as the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.” The Capital is in the midst of a care crisis with, according to the latest figures available, 836 people still waiting to be assessed for provision, including 700 who have not yet received care packages and 169 people delayed in hospital.
Dr Donald Macaskill, Chief Executive of Scottish Care said: “There is a real risk not only in Edinburgh but across Scotland, that Health and Social Care Partnerships, faced with even tighter budgets will seek to discharge individuals before they are properly assessed.”
Shadow Health Secretary Miles Briggs said: “Families of elderly and vulnerable people in Edinburgh will be understandably alarmed that the city’s health and social care partnership appears to be pushing for people to be discharged from hospital before any social care packages are put in place.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Our policy is clear.
“When a patient is assessed as requiring care and support on discharge from hospital we expect local health and social care partnerships to ensure appropriate support is provided.”