Bed blocking causing ‘a strain on health system’ says MSP

BERWICKSHIRE MSP John Lamont has expressed alarm at the number of beds in Borders General Hospital that were taken up by people well enough to return home during the summer months.

According to ISD Scotland figures a total of 2,041 bed days (number of beds taken up by patients on any given day) from July-September were taken up by patients who were fit to leave, but had not been allowed to.

Bed blocking causes huge problems for hospitals, who are having to cater for patients who are fit to leave but are not allowed to release them. The reasons for the delay can range from a lack of care home spaces to issues surrounding the completion of social work assessments.

Mr Lamont commented: “Bed blocking is a huge problem for NHS Boards, and it is disappointing that so many bed days have been lost in the Borders. It is hugely frustrating for patients to be told that they are fit enough to leave, yet they are not allowed to go home and see their loved ones.

“It also causes a huge strain on our health system, as doctors have to try harder and harder to try and find beds for those who need them, while there are healthy patients simply waiting there. For over 2,000 days there were beds which should have gone to ill patients but they were simply unavailable.”

“This cannot go on, and there is a clear onus on the Scottish Government to start taking action to clear this backlog. NHS Borders have to ensure that it is safe to discharge patients, and if the SNP could make the process of social work assessments quicker or create more care home places this would be a huge help.”

“It is not fair on patients, those who are fit to leave, or the staff working in the NHS Borders region for this practise to be allowed to continue unabated. Something must be done and I sincerely hope the SNP take action to see the amount of time lost through delayed discharges significantly decrease.”

NHS Borders work in conjunction with Scottish Borders Council’s social work department to minimise the risk of vulnerable patients coming to harm once they return home.

This typically involves the implementation of a domestic care package or the fitting of safety equipment such as hand rails.

And pointing to the fact that the health board’s bed day figures were the second lowest in mainland Scotland and assuring that patient safety was their main priority, an NHs Borders spokesperson told ‘The Berwickshire’: Safe and efficient discharge of patients to the most appropriate setting is a key priority for NHS Borders.

“NHS Borders works in partnership with Scottish Borders Council to minimise delayed discharges and weekly meetings are held to review delayed discharge cases and agree actions to facilitate timely discharge. Out of all mainland boards, we have the second lowest number of bed days taken up by delayed discharge patients.”