14 Oct 2012
Scotland’s delayed discharge crisis has caused up to nine patients being stuck in hospital for more than a year, despite being fit to leave.
Figures have revealed that some patients with complex needs – or “code nines” – stranded on wards for as long as two-and-a-half years.
And such patients are not included on regular bed-blocking statistics because of their complex needs, which often relate to mental health issues.
The statistics were gathered through Freedom of Information by the Scottish Conservatives after it emerged there were 40 code nine patients in Scotland who had been waiting for discharge for more than six months.
But official ISD Scotland data would not go into more detail on how long each patient had to wait.
In Glasgow there were two patients who have waited longer than a year, one for more than 430 days and one for more than 410 days.
In Forth Valley, a patient has been stuck in hospital for a year and 10 months, while in Lanarkshire someone has been on delayed discharge for two-and-a-half years.
And NHS Lothian, while going into less detail than all other health boards, said up to five patients have waited for more than 12 months, but would not specify for what length of time.
In Grampian, a patient has been awaiting discharge for 10 months, and in Tayside for more than six months.
Delayed discharge occurs when a person is fit to leave hospital, but has nowhere suitable to be placed, often because a social work assessment has not been carried out.
Earlier this year the Scottish Conservatives called on code nine patients to be included as part of wider statistics to provide a clear picture of the extent of delayed discharge in Scotland.
Scottish Conservative health spokesman and deputy leader Jackson Carlaw MSP said:
“In a modern Scotland and a modern NHS, the concept of anyone languishing in hospital for more than a year – when they are perfectly fit to leave – is difficult to accept.
“I appreciate that a patient having complex needs may well make it harder to find suitable accommodation, but there is absolutely no excuse for this to have gone on for as long as it has in these cases.
“Delayed discharge is a headache hospitals could do without, especially with winter approaching, which will result in wards being under a great deal of pressure.
“And it is hardly in a patient’s interests to be marooned in hospital, especially if they have complex needs which would be better assisted in a different environment.
“The number involved here is unacceptable, but not so high that the SNP can’t knock some heads together and address it at once.
“By doing so, space will be freed up in wards, and the interests of nine Scottish patients who have already lost a year of their lives in hospital will be enhanced.”