South Scotland Labour MSP Colin Smyth has revealed the scale of the care crisis facing the region, with new figures on the cost of the delayed discharge in South Scotland.

Statistics compiled by Scottish Labour have shown that delayed discharge cost the NHS in Scotland a staggering £150 million in 2021/22 (see first table below).

A delayed discharge occurs when a patient, is deemed to be clinically ready for discharge, but cannot leave hospital because the other necessary care, such as home care or a care home place, is not available, often due to a lack of carers. As a result, the patient is forced to stay in hospital often meaning other patients care is cancelled due to a lack of beds.

Despite the Scottish Government promising in February 2015 to eradicate delayed discharge, the level has risen in recent years with 540,302 bed days being lost across Scotland over the course of 2021/22.

Colin Smyth has said that this is symbolic of the Scottish Government’s failure to pay home carers a proper wage. The local MSP has been campaigning for a minimum wage of £15 for care workers, with an immediate rise to £12 per hour from the current pay of less than £11 per hour in most case.

Separately, the monthly delayed discharge figures released on Tuesday show almost all south Scotland’s health boards saw an increase in bed days occupied when comparing November 2021 to November 2022. NHS Ayrshire and Arran saw the largest increase of 71 per cent.

Colin Smyth said: “Years on from the SNP promising to end the deadly and costly practice of Delayed Discharge, the problem is getting worse. Local hospitals are full of patients who shouldn’t be there but they can’t go home because of a lack of home carers or a no suitable accommodation such as sheltered housing and residential care home spaces.

“In a year when services were already at breaking point, delayed discharge is costing the NHS millions locally.

“We cannot have patients left in hospital unnecessarily and the public purse drained due to poor provision of care for those leaving hospital.

“It’s time we started paying our carers properly so we can tackle the recruitment crisis we face and seriously address the woeful level of care home and sheltered housing provision locally.”


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