MSP BAILLIE: bed days occupied by patients from West Dunbartonshire trebled within 18 months

By Lucy Ashton

Jackie Baillie has expressed her concern over delayed discharge after it was revealed that the number of bed days occupied by patients from West Dunbartonshire trebled within 18 months.

Figures published by Public Health Scotland show that in November 2019, 361 bed days were taken up as a result of delayed discharge based on the patient’s local authority of residence.

This rose to 598 in April 2020 and a year later, in April 2021 was at 950 although has since reduced to 744 according to the latest figures which cover up to November last year. This however doesn’t take into account the busy winter period of 2021/22 and the Omicron wave of Covid which has led to high levels of staff absence in health and social care due to infection and isolation.

The number of people experiencing a delay in their discharge from hospital rose by almost a quarter between 2020 and 2021.

From April 2020 to November 2020, 165 patients were affected but, during the same period of the following year, this increased to 213.

In April 2020 alone, just 10 patients experienced a delay, compared to 32 during the same month of 2021.

Figures for Argyll and Bute up to November last year give cause for concern with 88 percent of delays in discharge attributed to health and social care reasons. The Scottish average is 74 percent. The statistics show a worsening situation in Argyll and Bute as this rose from 73 percent the previous year.

In West Dunbartonshire, the figure was 41 percent in November 2021 and 30 percent the previous year.

Jackie Baillie, Dumbarton constituency MSP, said: “These figures are very concerning as they paint a frustrating picture of people fit to leave hospital and free up beds but unable to do so because there are problems with care packages.

“The problem with the lack of care packages is evident across Scotland and is caused by the lack of resources made available to local Councils to put services in place. This is compounded by the shortage of social care staff.

“Social care staff deserve to be paid £15 an hour and the SNP government will shamefully not commit to this. Instead dedicated workers are better paid elsewhere in retail or hospitality.

“I have brought this issue up with both the Cabinet Secretary and the First Minister on numerous occasions but still little is being done to address this problem. They need to act now before the situation gets any worse.”

Meanwhile,  Scottish LibDem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton has called on the Scottish Government to stop their centralisation mission and get to grip with the social care crisis on the ground, as new figures show a 41% year-on-year increase in delayed discharges.

In December 2021 there were 47,177 days spent in hospital by people whose discharge was delayed – up 41% compared to December 2020 (33,343 days).

Census figures also show that the number of people stuck in hospital because they are waiting for a care at home package has almost doubled since April.

Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP commented:  “The number of people stuck in hospital unnecessarily has virtually doubled since Spring, showing the pressure and gaps in social care in the community.

“If the Health Secretary [Humza Yousaf SNP] wanted to genuinely help patients and staff this winter, he would focus his time and attention on fixing the problems that make securing care packages so difficult.

“Instead, the Scottish Government are consulting on centralising services, which is years away and already seeing kickback from practitioners across the country. The solution to social care isn’t a centralised ministerial takeover.

“This is urgent which is why Scottish Liberal Democrats will continue to push ministers to trigger the transformation of staff pay and conditions in this year’s budget. Long-term this should be backed by a Health and Social Care Staff Assembly that puts frontline experience and expertise at the heart of the response to this crisis.”

The census data shows that in April 2021 there were 310 people on delayed discharge due to care arrangements (part of health and social care reasons). This increased to 575 by December 2021.

Delayed discharge data published by Public Health Scotland can be found here.

New Scottish Liberal Democrat analysis has shown that 282,346 scheduled operations have now been lost to the pandemic and the party has called for an urgent new Burnout Prevention Strategy for NHS staff as the backlog continues to grow.

In December only 17,836 operations were scheduled in the theatre system – 31% below pre-covid levels of NHS activity.

Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “MSP said: “These new statistics show the scale of covid’s impact. In the region of 280,000 operations have now been lost to the pandemic. The loss of these procedures means people are in pain and can’t get on with life.

“The backlog is still growing because operations remain way below pre-covid levels.

“NHS staff have worked around the clock to protect people from the virus and navigate the fallout of the SNP’s botched workforce planning that has left so many departments dreadfully short of staff. They deserve better.

“It is why I’m calling on SNP ministers to urgently bring forward a Burnout Prevention Strategy for staff this winter. If staff aren’t retained then every plan to recruit, stabilise the health service and stem the backlog of operations will fall flat.”

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