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July census shows rise in bed blocking

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman has pledged to increase the pace of health and social care integration.

The number of people stuck in hospital despite being medically fit to leave has risen by 10% in a year, according to new figures.

Official statistics show 1,420 people were delayed in being discharged when a census was taken in July, up 10% from 1,293 in the census for July 2017.

Delayed discharge, also known as bed blocking, occurs when patients are fit to leave hospital but are unable to, often due to a lack of social care.

Of those patients affected in the July census, 1,181 were delayed more than three days.

The most common reason for delays over three days was health and social care reasons, at 74%, followed by complex needs, at 23%, then patient and family-related reasons, at 3%.

The daily average number of beds blocked fell slightly from 1,413 in June to 1,404 in July.

In total, patients spent 43,536 days in hospital due to delayed discharge in July, an increase of 7% on the same month the previous year.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said: “I know that there are some parts of our health and social care system that are not performing as well as we would like in this area.

“The integration of health and social care will enable us to make long-term, sustainable progress to reduce the level of delayed discharge.

“I have already made clear that one of my main priorities as Health Secretary is to increase the pace of this reform so that more people can benefit.”

Ms Freeman said £500 million has been transferred from the NHS into social care and integration in 2018/19.

Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesman Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “It is unacceptable that more than 1,000 people are stuck in hospital every day, well enough to leave but unable to do so because they lack an assessment, care home space or a home care package.

“SNP ministers must now set out their plans for reducing avoidable delayed discharges and the progress they expect to be made tackling it over the coming months.”

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