Delayed discharge numbers in West Dunbartonshire treble over 18 months

The number of bed days taken up by patients from West Dunbartonshire who are medically fit enough to go home trebled within 18 months.

Statistics published by Public Health Scotland show that in November 2019, 361 bed days were taken up as a result of delayed discharge among patients who had no clinical reason to be in hospital.

It rose to 598 in April 2020 and a year later, in April 2021 was at 950 – although it has since reduced to 744 according to the latest figures which cover up to November last year.

This, however, doesn’t take into account the busy winter period of 2021/22 and the Omicron wave of Covid which has led to high levels of staff absence in health and social care due to infection and isolation.

Dumbarton MSP Jackie Baillie said: “These figures are very concerning as they paint a frustrating picture of people fit to leave hospital and free up beds but unable to do so because there are problems with care packages.

“The problem with the lack of care packages is evident across Scotland and is caused by the lack of resources made available to local councils to put services in place. This is compounded by the shortage of social care staff.

“Social care staff deserve to be paid £15 an hour and the SNP government will shamefully not commit to this. Instead dedicated workers are better paid elsewhere in retail or hospitality.

“I have brought this issue up with both the Cabinet Secretary and the First Minister on numerous occasions but still little is being done to address this problem. They need to act now before the situation gets any worse.”

The number of people experiencing a delay in their discharge from hospital rose by almost a quarter between 2020 and 2021.

From April 2020 to November 2020, 165 patients were affected but, during the same period of the following year, this increased to 213.

In April 2020 alone, just 10 patients experienced a delay, compared to 32 during the same month of 2021.

West Dunbartonshire Health and Social Care Partnership (WDHSCP) said the region is one of the few areas where residents have not been delayed in hospital due to waiting for a care at home package.

Beth Culshaw, chief officer of WDHSCP, said: “We are committed to supporting people to go home from hospital as soon as they are medically fit for discharge.

“While there has been an increase in delays across Scotland, we are proud that West Dunbartonshire has been one of the few areas where residents have not been delayed in hospital due to waiting for a care at home package.

“Our care at home teams continue to be able to support people from their day of discharge.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said Scotland’s NHS and social care services are under more pressure than ever before.

He said: “Recent months have seen extreme pressures across the whole health and social care system and this has been seen more people coming through hospitals who need high levels of care and support to go home.

“We have announced significant additional funding to address this, including £62m to enhance care at home, £48m to increase the hourly rate of pay, £40m to support interim care arrangements and £20m to enhance multi-disciplinary teams.

“We have also recently launched our “discharge without delay” programme, backed by £5m, to help local health and social care partnerships improve discharge planning arrangements.

“We are also investing £500,000 to establish the new Covid Remote Monitoring Pathways that will support the public to stay safely at home. This funding will allow us to procure 25,000 remote monitoring kits to enable this new pathway and establish a dedicated team to support this.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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