Bed block­ing still a pa­tient ‘night­mare’

De­layed dis­charge for more than 50 peo­ple

Perthshire Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE - Paul Cargill

More than 50 peo­ple from Perth and Kin­ross were forced to stay in hospi­tal in a sin­gle month ear­lier this year de­spite be­ing fit enough to leave.

In­for­ma­tion re­leased by NHS Scot­land at the start of the week showed 25 of the 53 pa­tients from Perth and Kin­ross held back in hospi­tal in Septem­ber could not leave be­cause care pack­ages had not been ar­ranged for them.

The fig­ures were pub­lished af­ter the Men­tal Wel­fare Com­mis­sion (MWC) also claimed over the week­end NHS Tay­side had let some pa­tients with com­plex needs languish on wards for as long as four years - a sit­u­a­tion the Scot­tish Con­ser­va­tives’ health spokesman Miles Briggs de­scribed as “a scan­dal”.

How­ever Robert Pack­ham, chief of­fi­cer for the Perth and Kin­ross health and so­cial care part­ner­ship, in­sisted yes­ter­day th­ese de­lays af­fected “a very small num­ber of peo­ple” and the num­ber of bed days lost lo­cally due to peo­ple be­ing stuck in hospi­tal had ac­tu­ally gone down in the last year.

Com­ment­ing on the MWC’s claims Mr Briggs said: “The cases be­ing high­lighted of pa­tients liv­ing in Scot­tish hos­pi­tals be­cause there is no ap­pro­pri­ate care pack­age for them is a to­tal scan­dal and must be a wake-up call for SNP min­is­ters that health and so­cial care in­te­gra­tion is not de­liv­er­ing the joined up ap­proach to care we all want to see.”

And com­ment­ing on the lat­est bed block­ing fig­ures Mr Briggs said: “For years now the SNP has pledged to act on de­layed dis­charge and find a way to re­duce it.

“But now the prob­lem is at a two-year high [across Scot­land], and that’s be­fore the win­ter pres­sures we see ev­ery year prop­erly kick in.

“For years the na­tion­al­ists have made prom­ises, re­vealed grand­stand­ing an­nounce­ments, yet noth­ing ac­tu­ally changes on the ground.

“De­layed dis­charge is a night­mare for pa­tients and hos­pi­tals, and it’s time the SNP tried to make a mean­ing­ful im­pact on it.”

How­ever re­spond­ing to those re­marks health sec­re­tary Jeane Free­man said: “I have been clear that it is not ac­cept­able for peo­ple to be de­layed in hospi­tal af­ter their treat­ment has been com­pleted.

“The in­vest­ment that we are mak­ing into health and so­cial care in­te­gra­tion – more than half a bil­lion pounds trans­ferred this year – will bring about an im­prove­ment.”

And Mr Pack­ham said yes­ter­day: “Peo­ple who have very com­plex needs may re­quire a high level of sup­port from a range of ser­vices and a change to their liv­ing ac­com­mo­da­tion.

“Th­ese mat­ters can take some time to ar­range and where spe­cial­ist ac­com­mo­da­tion is needed there can be de­lays while the right fa­cil­i­ties are put in place.”

Re­fer­ring specif­i­cally to the MWC’s claims he added: “The pe­ri­ods of de­lay high­lighted ... refers to peo­ple with ex­cep­tion­ally com­plex needs. This af­fects a very small num­ber of peo­ple but the length of de­lay can be sig­nif­i­cant.

“In Perth and Kin­ross we have been work­ing to re­duce the num­ber of peo­ple ex­pe­ri­enc­ing de­lays and we reg­u­larly mon­i­tor their progress.”

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