17 Aug 2012
More than 1,000 patients across Scotland were discharged too early from intensive care and high dependency units in Scotland last year.
A report by the Scottish Intensive Care Society Audit Group found that 1,008 people had to leave the wards because of either staff or bed shortages.
It amounts to around three per cent of ICU and HDU patients in Scotland in 2011.
The report itself stated that early discharges “are defined as those where it has been recorded that the reason for discharge was early due to either unit or bed shortages”.
It adds that early discharges “can be used as a marker of insufficient resources”.
NHS Highland had the highest proportion of early discharges, with seven per cent, while both NHS Ayrshire and Arran and NHS Forth Valley had the fewest of the mainland health boards.
Scottish Conservative health spokesman and deputy leader Jackson Carlaw MSP said:
“No-one should be discharged from hospital before they are ready.
“It has been apparent for some time that patients may be being discharged early.
“But what we have now is emerging evidence of how established this has become, and to see it being justified to deal with issues of capacity will set alarm bells ringing in the ears of patients and staff.
“The SNP has repeatedly vowed that, amid the financial cutbacks it is making to the NHS, frontline services will not be affected.
“Evidence produced in this report suggests otherwise, and patients across Scotland deserve better than this.
“We also have this ludicrous situation where people are being discharged too early from one bed, while next door is a bed-blocking patient who is ready to leave but has nowhere to go.
“It is hugely unfair on staff to be tasked with deciding which patients would be harmed the least by early discharge.
“If an individual needs to be in hospital as part of their recovery or rehabilitation, that’s exactly where they should be.”
Notes to Editors
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Below is the number of live discharges from ICU and HDUs in Scotland, and the proportion of those released early in 2011:
Ayrshire and Arran – one per cent of 2,583 discharges
Borders – three per cent of 455 discharges
Dumfries and Galloway – five per cent of 1,342 discharges
Fife – four per cent of 2,351 discharges
Forth Valley – one per cent of 1,206 discharges
Grampian – three per cent of 3,312 discharges
Greater Glasgow and Clyde – two per cent of 8,196 discharges
Highland – seven per cent of 1,829 discharges
Lanarkshire – four per cent of 2,491 discharges
Lothian – two per cent of 7,025 discharges
Shetland – one per cent of 73 discharges
Tayside – two per cent of 2,321 discharges
Western Isles – five per cent of 431 discharges
Total – three per cent of 33,615 discharges