Colin Smyth MSP
Colin Smyth MSP

South Scotland Labour MSP Colin Smyth has warned the region faces a ‘care crisis’ as new figures show an increase in number bed days lost to delayed discharge across the south of Scotland.

Figures released by Public Health Scotland on Tuesday show the number of bed days occupied by delayed discharge have increased by 91 per cent in Dumfries and Galloway in a year, from 1,390 in July 2021 to 2,657 recorded in July 2022.

NHS Borders showed a 29 per cent increase and NHS Ayrshire and Arran reported a 43 per cent increase, from 3,613 in July 2021 to 5,202 in July 2022.

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.

Across the region thousands of hours of assessed care is not being provided in homes because of a lack of carers.

Colin Smyth said: “Delayed discharge has been a chronic issue across the area for years, but we face a full-on care crisis.

“A day rarely goes by when I don’t speak to local families about the fact their loved ones cannot get the care they need. We know people are suffering at home because they don’t have the support they need and I know people who have died in hospital when they wanted to be at home but couldn’t, for no other reason than we didn’t have carers to look after them and that is a scandal. It is utter madness that hospital beds are having to be used when people should be at home and want to be there.

“This mounting crisis is damaging patients’ recovery, draining precious funds from our NHS at the worst possible time and resulting in an enormous pressure on NHS staff caring for people who shouldn’t be in hospital.

“It is pure negligence that has let this spiral out of control again over the last year.

“The Scottish Government must get a grip and properly invest in social care so that people can get the support they need and the NHS can focus on treating people.

“They should start by backing Labour’s plans to pay staff a fair wage of £12 an hour, rising to £15.

“Ending delayed discharge should be a priority for the Scottish Government and that means a radical rethink on how we fund and deliver social care. At present the Government are like rabbits caught in the headlights. They simply have no answers to this crisis.”

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