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Lib Dems critical of Government over mental health delayed discharge

The figures were released this week (Lesley Martin/PA)
The figures were released this week (Lesley Martin/PA)

The Scottish Lib Dems have said the Scottish Government’s mental health record is “utterly dismal” as 111,000 bed days were lost at facilities last year.

Public Health Scotland released figures this week showing that the number of days where a bed was occupied by a person who could have been discharged increased by 12.6%.

In 2022-23, the figure was 111,130, up from 98,716 the year before, according to the figures.

Scottish Lib Dem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “Thousands of NHS bed days are being lost and patients trapped in hospitals when they could be properly cared for in the community and at home.

“For vulnerable people struggling with their mental health, not being able to leave hospital can be particularly upsetting, especially when the main roadblock is lack of social care packages.

“They need robust community care that brings them closer to their support networks, enables a sustained recovery and rebuilds lives.

“It’s also bad for the NHS because those beds are not available to treat others in need.

“Delayed discharges from mental health specialities can be of a very complex nature, but those challenges are made so much worse by the pressures and gaps in community care.

“The SNP’s track record on mental health has been utterly dismal.

“I cannot understand how nationalist ministers can hear the stories of children and adults in mental torment and respond with budget cuts and inaction.”

His party, Mr Cole-Hamilton said, would “ensure everyone has access to comprehensive mental health support in the community” by “investing in community-based services”.

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said: “Latest figures show that over 95% of discharges were without delay nationwide.

“We are working closely with health boards and health and social care partnerships to create the necessary capacity to deal with emerging pressures over winter and to ensure patients are assessed and discharged with the appropriate care package as quickly as possible.

“Significant additional annual funding has been allocated to support social care including £124 million to enhance care at home capacity as well as an additional £100 million to uplift adult social care pay up to a minimum rate of £10.90 per hour, with staff receiving at least £12 an hour, from April.

“We provided £3.6 million this year to support growth of Hospital at Home services for older people and have also invested additional funds of up to £12 million as part of our winter plan to increase capacity.”