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Brexit could lead to rise in number of delayed discharges, says MSP

Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton said that people must be given the final say on Brexit.

The number of bed days occupied by delayed discharges has risen, according to statistics (Lynne Cameron/PA)
The number of bed days occupied by delayed discharges has risen, according to statistics (Lynne Cameron/PA)

The number of people stuck in hospital due to their discharge being delayed could rise as a result of Brexit, a Liberal Democrat MSP has warned.

Alex Cole-Hamilton suggested that the UK’s departure from the EU could cause a reduction in health care staff available, impacting the number of delayed discharges at hospitals in Scotland.

He made the comments as figures on Tuesday showed an increase in the number of bed days occupied due to delayed discharges caused by health and social care problems in March.

According to official statistics, the number of bed days occupied by delayed discharges attributed to “health and social care reasons” was 32,951 in March 2019.

The last thing staff need is a damaging Brexit which threatens to drastically reduce their numbers Alex Cole-Hamilton, Liberal Democrat MSP

It represents a rise on the 31,157 delayed discharges recorded under the same category in total for February this year.

Health and social care reasons include patients waiting on a care home place, social care support to enable them to live in their own home and those waiting on a needs assessment to be conducted.

Mr Cole-Hamilton said: “Every day there are more than 1,000 people stuck in hospital. Medical staff have declared them well enough to leave but the care they need in the community simply isn’t there.

“People are routinely waiting far too long for assessments, care home places and the support they need to return to their own home.

“Staff are working around the clock but they need more support from the Scottish Government, given it promised to eradicate delayed discharges years ago.

“The last thing staff need is a damaging Brexit which threatens to drastically reduce their numbers. The fall in the value of the pound already means EU workers don’t earn as much. Many are unsure about the future.

“It is time to give the people the final say on Brexit, before even more damage is done to our social care system.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson meanwhile highlighted a decrease in beds occupied by delays between Febuary and March.

He said: “Because there are more days in March than February it is wrong to highlight an increase in bed days occupied due to delayed discharges between the two months.

“The average number of beds occupied by delays has in fact fallen from 1,458 in February to 1,401 in March.

“We are continuing to work closely with health and social care partnerships to ensure the good practice that exists in many areas is spread across Scotland.

“Many partnerships record delays in single figures while five account for more than half of all delays. Our investment in social care and integration – more than £700 million this year – will help to reduce delayed discharge, and ensure that fewer people have to spend unnecessary time in hospital.”

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