DELAYED discharges from hospitals in Dumfries and Galloway are “spiralling out of control”, says an MSP.
Colin Smyth, South Scotland Labour MSP, has criticised the Scottish government for failing to tackle delayed discharges.
His comments were made after the annual figures published by the government’s Information Services Division (ISD) Scotland showed that in 2018/19 15,573 bed days were lost because of delayed discharges.
This cost NHS Dumfries & Galloway £3.862m.
A delayed discharge happens when a patient is medically cleared to go home but cannot leave hospital, often because a social care package is not in place.
Mr Smyth said: “Ministers used to promise they would eradicate delayed discharges but they are simply presiding over a crisis which is spiralling out of control.
“Cuts to health and social care services are inevitably resulting in an increase in the number of patients staying longer in hospital, despite being medically fit to leave.
“The nearly £4m being spent on delayed discharges could be used elsewhere to tackle the challenges facing health services.
“The government must take urgent action to properly fund health and social care to ensure resources meet the growing demand from an ageing population, not just to keep people in hospital.”
Graham Abrines is the general manager of community health and social care.
He said: “We’re very aware of the impact which delays can have on people receiving the right support in the right place at the right time.
“Action is being taken to address hospital discharges. Dumfries and Galloway Health and Social Care Partnership recently agreed to expand the region’s Short Term Assessment Reablement Service (STARS).
“STARS play an important role in enabling people, who are leaving hospital, to regain or improve their physical well-being, reducing dependency on ongoing support.
“Action is also being taken to bolster the care at home service.
“Options for Dumfries and Galloway Council’s in-house service are being developed and we’re looking at how our independent sector providers can assist against a backdrop of recruitment challenges.
“There is not one solution to the challenges which exist in health and social care here.
“We have an ageing population, well-documented recruitment challenges and need to make increasing annual cost savings, standing at £19.5m in the current financial year.
“There need to be significant changes to the way we approach health and social care over coming years and in how our population approaches their own health and well-being.
“People are living longer but not necessarily living ‘healthier’ for longer.
“Collectively, our attitudes and actions towards how we ‘own’ our health and well-being need to improve.
“Generally speaking, we need to eat better, smoke less, drink less, exercise more and sleep better.
“We’re very aware of the human effect on a patient unable to leave hospital for whatever reason and on staff who want to ensure they use their time and skills to the best advantage of those who need their help.
“By working together, we are looking to ensure help is delivered in the best way and people are encouraged and helped to consider and act in the interest of their own well-being.”