Colin Smyth MSP
Colin Smyth MSP

Figures released by Public Health Scotland on Tuesday about the number of bed days occupied by delayed discharge continues to paint a bleak picture in south Scotland.

The numbers have increased by 56 per cent in Dumfries and Galloway in a year, between October 2021 and October 2022.

Comparing the figures between 2021 and 2022, NHS Borders showed a 26 per cent increase and NHS Ayrshire and Arran reported a 38 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 or there is a lack of places in care homes or sheltered housing.

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: “The monthly delayed discharge figures continue to paint a bleak picture for health boards across the south of Scotland.

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

“Delayed discharge damages patients’ recovery, it drains precious funds from our NHS at the worst possible time and is 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.  We don’t have enough carers to support people in their homes or enough care home places.

“That will need long term investment including tackling the woeful low level of sheltered housing locally, but the Government could start by backing Labour’s plans to pay care workers a fair wage of £12 an hour, rising to £15 which would help with the recruitment crisis.

“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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