Delayed discharge figures for Scotland rise again

The number of delayed discharge cases in Scotland has increased
for the second consecutive year.

In the most recent NHS Scotland statistical report, figures for
15 October 2001 show that 3,138 patients were ready for discharge,
an increase of 6.2 per cent on 2,954 in July 2001. Of these, 2,191
patients (almost 70 per cent of the total) had waited over six
weeks to be discharged.

The main reason for delayed discharge was once again the lack of
public funding for nursing home places (22 per cent of total),
closely followed by 15.6 per cent who were still awaiting a
post-hospital social care assessment.

The same pattern of reasons existed last August when Susan
Deacon, then health minister, described the figures as “still too
high”, and committed the executive to greater investment in
community resources as well as instructing, Trevor Jones, chief
executive of NHS Scotland, to bring together health and social work
chiefs to formulate a joint strategy.

Malcolm Chisholm, minister for health and community care,
accepted that the latest figures represented a “more entrenched
long term problem”.

He said that part of the problem lay in the changing
demographics of hospital in-patients. Since 1981, the number of
hospital patients in Scotland has increased by more than 50 per
cent, the proportion of patients over 65 years has more than
doubled and those over 85 has trebled.

Last week the executive announced a £20 million action plan
to tackle delayed discharge by providing up to 1,000 more places
“in more appropriate settings”. Chisholm said that dealing
effectively with delayed discharge was “non-negotiable” for the NHS
and local authorities. Chisholm said: “Too often the issue of
delayed discharge is seen as one of lists, times and statistics.
That is wrong. This is an issue about people and their needs.”

Next week the executive will announce details of the action plan
devised by Trevor Jones, chief executive of the NHS Scotland.

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