Delayed discharges in Scotland’s hospitals have reached the highest level since the start of the pandemic, figures show.
Public Health Scotland (PHS) said 37,136 bed days were lost in June, despite patients being well enough to leave hospital – the highest figure since March last year.
The figure is a 57% increase from the same time last year and 5% higher than in May.
Per day during June, an average of 1,238 beds were occupied in Scotland as a result of so-called bed blocking, 9% higher than the previous month, and the highest number since the Covid-19 pandemic hit Scotland.
PHS employs a “census point” with these statistics – a chosen date during the surveyed time to allow for the comparison of monthly statistics – in this case the last Thursday of the month.
At this point, 1,276 people were delayed – an increase of 11% from same day the previous month when the figure was 1,145 and 58% higher than the same day last year.
On this day, 996 people had been waiting more than three days.
Of those, 61% (607) were due to health and social care concerns, according to the figures, while 36% (360) were caused by complex needs and 3% were for patient and family-related reasons.
A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said: “The whole health and social care system has faced significant pressure due to the pandemic and its wider impact, but frontline staff have been tremendous in delivering care.
“As we emerge safely from coronavirus restrictions we are seeing pent-up demand coming through the system with many of those ready to leave hospital now requiring a far more extensive package of care to be in place before they can be discharged.
“Staffing capacity is also under pressure as a result of self-isolation and sickness, along with the traditional increase in leave during the summer months.
“We are actively seeking to address these pressures with the launch of a national recruitment process this week, liaising with local authorities and wider health and social care partners and aiming to get more students in to help.
“Disclosure Scotland has also agreed to fast track its clearance processes for new entrants into the social care workforce.
“Despite these pressures, current numbers of delayed discharge days remain significantly below the level seen before the pandemic. The 37,136 figure for June this year is down 12% on the 42,252 for June 2019.
“To ensure best practice on discharge planning, arrangements are being taken forward across the country, the minister for mental wellbeing and social care will be chairing a new implementation group to help deliver further improvements.
“Decisions about care and treatment should always be clinically based, in the individual’s best interests and taken in consultation with the individual or their families and representatives. It is not a decision that the Scottish Government either directs or makes.”
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