Figures released by Public Health Scotland on Tuesday show the number of bed days occupied by delayed discharge continues to be a problem in south Scotland.

The numbers have increased by 45 per cent in Dumfries and Galloway in a year, between September 2021 and September 2022. NHS Dumfries and Galloway chief executive Jeff Ace last week made a plea to families provide assistance if possible to people who no longer require clinical care, but who are struggling to get home following their discharge from hospital.

Comparing the figures between 2021 and 2022, NHS Borders showed a 46 per cent increase and NHS Ayrshire and Arran reported a 42 per cent increase.

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.

An increasing number of care homes closures are also reducing the opportunities for older people to leave hospital if they require a care home place.

Colin Smyth said: “Every month we are seeing dire figures across the south of Scotland when it comes to delayed discharge and our fantastic NHS is struggling.

“Almost everyone knows of families who are dealing with this terrible situation and it is getting worse.

“This 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.

“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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