Delayed discharges ‘cost NHS £650m over five years’

Analysis found more than 2.7m lost bed days in the five years up to November last year have cost the taxpayer £653m.

The NHS has forked out more than £650m on “bed blocking” since First Minister Nicola Sturgeon took office, figures suggest.

Analysis by Scottish Labour found more than 2.7 million lost bed days in the five years up to November last year have cost the taxpayer £653m.

The party used an estimate released by the Information Services Division (ISD), which compiles health service statistics, during the corresponding years.

Bed blocking occurs when a person is well enough to be discharged from hospital but is kept in due to a lack of social care provisions, such as a place in a care home or a delay in changes being made to their home to accommodate their needs.

According to the ISD, 521,772 bed days were lost in 2018/19, costing the NHS £129m, the highest since 2015/16.

Between April and November last year, the health service has had to pay £88m due to delayed discharges.

Scottish Labour’s health spokeswoman Monica Lennon said: “Scottish Labour is committed to improving social care and developing a Scottish Care Service that gives everyone dignity and certainty.

“We know this will improve people’s lives and will benefit our NHS.

“Integrating health and social care is the smart thing to do, however the SNP has botched this policy by cutting corners on investment.

“Failing to listen to people who rely on social care and those on the front-line trying to deliver services, in ever more challenging circumstances, is complacent and it must end.

“Problems in social care can increase hospital admissions and then people are stuck in hospital for too long because the social care they need is not in place.

“SNP ministers promised to end delayed discharge but it’s a promise they’ve broken over and over again.

“This is stressful for people and their families and it’s also costing the NHS in Scotland hundreds of millions of pounds.

“This is not a record that Nicola Sturgeon and her government can be proud of.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Making sure that patients don’t spend any longer in hospital than needed relies on the joint work of local councils and the NHS – delivered through health and social care partnerships.

“That’s why we’re investing significantly in integration to ensure health and social care services are fully joined up for patients, and this year our spending on this will exceed £700m, a 29% increase on the last year alone.

“Progress has been made in reducing delays – across Scotland, bed days lost are down overall since 2016-17.

“We continue to work with our partners in local government, the NHS and in integration authorities to address where delays have increased and work to improve performance.”

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