Health secretary Humza Yousaf has been urged to “wake up” by Scottish Labour, as the party said more than 120,000 patients have ended up back in hospital within a week of being discharged in the last four years.
The party said freedom of information requests it submitted to health boards across Scotland revealed that since 2018, at least 128,151 patients had to return to hospital within a week of being sent home.
Labour has warned the figure may be “significantly higher” as NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde was unable to provide the requested data.
It comes after Public Health Scotland reported a 3% increase in the average number of hospital beds being occupied per day in April due to delayed discharges in Scotland’s hospitals.
Labour said it is “clear” the Scottish Government “has failed to join up health and social care”.
Jackie Baillie, the party’s health spokeswoman, has called on Yousaf to take action to protect lives.
She said: “It’s clear for all to see that under the SNP the relationship between our NHS and social care system is broken.
“For years, thousands of patients have found themselves back in hospital within only a week of their original discharge. This is wholly unacceptable.
“Plainly, this is the result of pressure on bed numbers due to SNP cuts and a lack of support for social care in the community.
“These are not mere numbers – these are human beings who deserve to be treated properly and with dignity.
“It’s time Humza Yousaf woke up to this issue and took action to keep patients safe.”
Meanwhile the Scottish Liberal Democrats said “lives are being “put at risk” as figures show patients waiting up to 40 hours to receive emergency hospital care at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The data obtained by the party through a series of freedom of information (FOI) requests reveals the longest number of hours waited by any person attending A&E in 2020/21.
Patients across the country waited more than a day to be seen in an emergency in a number of Scotland’s NHS health boards, according to the statistics.
Scottish Lib Dem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said the waiting times are a “disgrace”.
He added: “Nobody should spend almost two days in A&E. Emergency care is woefully understaffed.
“When NHS staff are exhausted, patients’ lives are potentially put at risk.
“We are facing the consequences of 15 years of SNP neglect of our health service.
“We need urgent action to prevent a staff exodus by looking after staff in the way they have looked after us.
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Despite the continued pressure from the pandemic on hospitals and services, more than two-thirds of patients are being seen in our A&E departments within the four-hour target.
“We want people to get the right care in the right setting, and for many A&E will not be the most suitable place for their healthcare need.
“People should consider whether their condition is an emergency, such as a stroke, heart attack or major trauma, before going to A&E.
“Our new Urgent and Unscheduled Care Collaborative programme, which is supported by £50 million of funding, looks to support the implementation of a range of measures to reduce A&E waiting times and improve patient experience, this includes alternatives to hospital-based treatment.
“Scotland continues to have the best performing A&Es in the UK, outperforming those in England, Wales and Northern Ireland for over six years.”
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