Number of days lost to bed blocking in Dumfries and Galloway soaring

The number of days lost in the region’s hospitals due to bed blocking is soaring.

New figures show that more than 2,700 days were lost to delayed discharge in April alone.

The Public Health Scotland data also reveals the number of beds occupied each day by people clinically well enough to leave was 91.

South Scotland Labor MSP, Colin Smyth, said: “These spiraling rates of delayed discharge are the last thing our struggling health service needs.

“This mounting crisis will damage patients’ recovery and drain precious funds from our NHS at the worst possible time.

“It is pure negligence that has let this spiral out of control again over the last year.

“The Scottish Government must get a grip and invest in social care so that people can get the support they need and the NHS can focus on treating people.”

Delayed discharge is when a patient is medically cleared to go home but cannot leave hospital, often because a social care package is not in place.

The latest figures reveal that in Scotland in April, 53,604 days were lost to delayed discharge – just four more than the previous month.

In Dumfries and Galloway, 2,735 days were lost, compared to 2,501 in March – while in January the figure was 2,275.

And in April last year the number was 966.

The data also reveals that in April 2022 there were 91 days occupied each day by people well enough to leave, compared to 81 in March.

South Scotland MSP, Emma Harper, said: “While there is no single reason for delayed discharges as it is a complex multifactorial issue, NHS Dumfries and Galloway is seeing the highest level of demand combined with restricted capacity and increasing patient user need which is causing significant pressures across all services.

“We need to see new solutions to address these problems and it is positive that the Dumfries and Galloway Integration Joint Board are aiming to do this.

“Earlier this year the board published their report on a new bed model for the region which will increase primary funding into community care packages, with a particular focus on reducing delayed discharge.”

A spokesman for NHS Dumfries and Galloway said: “The data quoted here illustrates a system under very significant and growing pressures, as it looks to provide treatment and care to a population with increasingly complex needs.

“One of the key challenges impacting on the ability to discharge people in a timely manner from hospital is in securing appropriate care.

“The month of April saw, at any one time, between eight to 10 of the region’s older adult care homes closed to new admissions. Although care homes have been reopening again as the prevalence of Covid declines, there is no guarantee that there will not be further outbreaks limiting capacity.

“Meanwhile, recruitment activity is continuing around providing care packages to support people in their own homes. Ongoing recruitment activity in care at home services is supported by the national increase in pay for this sector. The independent and third sectors are fully involved in partnership working and support, and we have multi-disciplinary teams reviewing people’s needs and identifying new and alternative ways of meeting those needs.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Throughout the pandemic we have continued to work with health and social care partnerships to reduce delays in people leaving hospital.

“The whole health and social care system is under severe pressure and staff continue to work tirelessly to provide safe care.”

The spokesman added: “Our Discharge without Delay improvement program outlines key actions to improve discharge planning arrangements.”

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