Evening Express

‘Bed-blockers’ use up to 131 spaces daily in north-east’s hospitals

Aberdeen Royal Infirmary

An average of 131 beds each day in the north-east are being taken up by delayed discharge.

Figures released for the 2017-18 year between April 2017 and March 2018 show that across NHS Grampian, 47,791 “bed days” were lost.

This compares with 494,123 for the whole of Scotland.

Delayed discharges, or bed blocking, occurs when people are medically ready to leave but have to wait for care arrangements to be made.

This could be for health, social care and family-related reasons, or due to the fact that they are viewed as adults with incapacity (AWI).

The figures released for the NHS Grampian area show a significant decrease on last year’s numbers, with 59,094 reported in 2016-17 – an average of 162 beds per day.

In 2015-16 this number was 81,346, while in 2014-15 it was 90,425.

In Aberdeen, over the past year, there have been 19,202 delays, an average of 53 per day, with 71% of those in people aged over 75.

Aberdeenshire statistics are similar, with 16,334 delayed discharges or 45 per day, 75% in over-75s.

Moray is slightly lower, with 11,487 delays, or 31 beds per day.

Sandra Ross, chief officer at Aberdeen City Health and Social Care Partnership, said: “This is the best ever performance by Aberdeen City in regard to both numbers delayed and bed days lost since our records began in 2012.

“Our delayed discharge figures are now at an all-time low, thanks to the hard work of our multi-disciplinary teams which are focused on the issue.

“There is always more work to be done, but we have seen significant progress over the past two years especially.

“We now sit well below the Scottish average in terms of bed days occupied by delayed discharges and numbers of people delayed in hospital.”

North-east MSP Mike Rumbles said: “Delayed discharges are a huge drain on our already struggling health service in Grampian.

“This appalling situation is happening all across the country. In some cases the costs to keep people in hospital could be in the region of £100,000.”

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman welcomed the nationwide reduction in bed blocking – pointing out this amounted to a 9% drop from 2015-16.

She added: “We want to continue to build on this progress.

“That’s why it is vital local health and social care partnerships develop a range of community-based services with the key aim of keeping people healthy at home.”