204 'ready to go home' patients die in Northern Ireland hospitals in year
46,000 days lost over discharge delays
Just over 200 patients deemed ready to go home died in Northern Ireland hospitals last year.
And over 46,000 bed days were lost in delays in discharging patients.
Figures, reported by the BBC and obtained through Freedom of Information requests, show in 2018 there were 204 people who died while awaiting to be discharged from hospital.
The most - 56 - were in the Northern Trust area with 52 in Belfast, 48 in the Southern Trust, 34 in the South Easter and 14 in the Western Trust.
Some had terminal illnesses while others were approaching "the natural end of their lives". It is also possible some may have opted to stay in hospital.
The Health and Social Care Board told the BBC more people were living longer and healthcare needs were becoming increasingly complex. It said it was a priority to either get patients home or into a community-care setting and a project is underway on identifying and enhancing reform to improve services.
SDLP Health Spokesperson Mark H Durkan said the figures were "extremely worrying".
"The added stress caused to patients and their families is not only unfair, it is frustrating given the situation is entirely avoidable," he said.
“Not only do delayed discharges cause bed blockages in an already struggling health service, they stop elderly patients and the terminally ill from being cared for at home or in the community.
“It is wrong that terminally ill patients, and their families, are having to spend the remaining time they have with their loved ones on a hospital ward unnecessarily.
“To ensure we overcome this, it is imperative we see more joint up working between departments, namely the Department of Health and the Department of Finance to address shortages and gaping holes in adult social care services.”
Belfast Telegraph Digital