Over 50,000 hospital bed days have been lost in Dundee to delayed discharge in the past five years, new analysis has shown.
The problem – which appears to be on the rise again following the covid pandemic – is placing extra pressure on hospitals and A&E units.
The latest Public Health Scotland data showed that between 2017/18 and 2021/22, there were 55,734 bed days taken up by patients who were fit to leave hospital.
A further 1413 patients were delayed in the first month of 2022/23.
Patients’ safe discharge from hospital can be delayed for a number of reasons, including a lack of care home spaces, social work checks or issues with family.
Some patients are categorized as ‘code 9s’ and deemed to have complex needs which are often difficult to meet.
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The statistics showed the annual number of bed days taken up by delayed discharge hovered around 10,000 per year, then dipped during the Covid pandemic.
But last year, there were more than 18,000 bed days used, and if April’s statistic continues that figure will near 17,000 by the end of this financial year.
The exact figures in the report are-
2021/22 – 18.144
2020/21 – 7460
2019/20 – 9861
2018/19 – 10,893
2017/18 – 9957
Scottish Conservative North East MSP Maurice Golden told Dundee Live: “Delayed discharge is a serious problem for Dundee.
“It makes life really difficult for hospitals, and causes misery for the patients who are fit to leave but have nowhere to go.
“The Scottish Government has spent years pleading to solve this problem.
“Yet now we learn the issue of delayed discharge has led to more than 50,000 bed days being used in the past five years.
“That’s an eye-watering figure and, while no-one would expect the delayed discharge issue to ever be completely solved, there’s clearly a lot of work to be done.
“We need to see the council and Scottish Government work closely together to ensure that when patients come out the other side of their hospital journey, there is somewhere safe and sustainable for them to go.
“By making progress on this front we wouldn’t just see improved outcomes for vulnerable patients, we’d make life easier for hard-working hospital staff too.”
A spokesperson for the Dundee Health & Social Care Partnership said: “As a Partnership we aim to ensure that citizens of Dundee are supported at home, and when people do have to go to hospital they are only there as long as they need to be .
“Our strategic approach is focused on the development of robust pathways which deliver care as close to home as possible. As a result, the majority of patients accessing acute care are supported to return home in line with their planned discharged date.
“In line with the national trend, we have experienced higher levels of hospital admission than pre-pandemic, at a time when delivery of social care services is very challenging.
“However, the Dundee position in relation to non-complex delays has stabilized over the past month and has reduced throughout the month of May.
“NHS Tayside remains one of the highest performing boards in Scotland. Dundee HSCP continues to work collaboratively with Tayside partners to develop and improve patient pathways.”
– You can see the full list of Public Health Scotland statistics here.
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