Delayed discharges in Scottish hospitals have risen 61% in the last year, NHS Scotland figures show.
There were 32,600 days spent in hospital beds by patients who were able to be released in April alone, according to the latest figures.
It is more than 12,000 higher than the 20,293 recorded in April 2020, when the health service was trying to increase the available capacity to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
The figures, published by Public Health Scotland, reveal there was an average of 1087 beds occupied each day during April 2021 by patients who were clinically cleared to leave hospital.
On the last Thursday of the month, used as a “census point” to compare monthly statistics, there were 856 people delayed more than three days, with health and social care reasons accounting for 474 delays (55%), complex needs accounting for 347 delays (41%) and patient and family-related reasons for 35 delays (4%).
But since April 2020, delayed discharges increased in all but three months, reaching a peak of 1135 per day in January 2021, followed by 1088 daily cases in February and 1092 delays in March.
NHS Scotland figures for the year ending March 31 also reveal 63% of the occupied beds in delayed discharge cases were for people over 75, with the remaining 130,902 bed days (37%) occupied by people aged 18-74.
Almost a third (65%) of delays were due to the health and social care system, with care arrangement delays responsible for 28% of cases, a lack of availability in other settings such as care homes blamed for 22%, and patients awaiting community care assessments causing 15% of delays.
There were 30% described as “complex” delay reasons, such as awaiting a place in a specialist facility, where an interim move is not appropriate or if the person legally lacks the capacity to be moved.
Reasons such as patient and family-related delays, awaiting funding and transport, accounted for the other 5% of delays.