South Scotland MSP Labour Colin Smyth has called on the Scottish Government to tackle the chronic issue of delayed discharge once and for all, as new figures show an increase in annual bed days lost to delayed discharge in Ayrshire.

Figures released by the Scottish Government’s Information Services Division (ISD) Scotland this week showed the annual number of bed days occupied by delayed discharge have increased by 26 per cent in the region, compared to 2018/19 (from 42,831 in 2018/19 to 53,821 in 2019/20).

Compared to 2017/18, there was an increase of 60 per cent (from 33,699 in 2017/18 to 53,821 in 2019/20).

The most recent estimated cost of delayed discharge is £248 per bed day, making the cost of delayed discharge in 2019/20 £13,347,608 in the region.

Delayed discharge is when a patient is medically cleared to go home but cannot leave hospital, often because a social care package is not in place.

In the weeks leading up to emergency measures being introduced in Scotland to curb the spread of Covid-19, and in the weeks since, hundreds of patients have been discharged to home and residential care settings to free up hospital beds.

Colin Smyth said any recovery plan for the NHS, as lockdown is eased, must ensure the chronic issue of delayed discharge does not return.

He said: “Delayed discharge has been a chronic issue in Ayrshire for years, and we must not let it continue to be one as we start to move out of lockdown and start to build a ‘new normal’.

“The NHS and social care sector in Ayrshire need investment so they have the capacity to cope, and so that no-one is stuck in a hospital bed when there should be a place in the community more suited to the level of care they need.

“Delayed discharge should be left in the past, in the pre-Covid-19 era of Scotland’s NHS. We must work hard not to let it creep back in when lockdown restrictions are eased and I am calling on the Scottish Government to promise that delayed discharge be eradicated once and for all.”

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