Cash-strapped health bosses are spending about £170,000 a month because of “bed-blocking” involving older patients in Dundee.
Figures released by the health board through a freedom of information request show that between January last year and September 2017, £3.572 million costs were incurred by NHS Tayside because of delayed discharges of people aged 65 and over in the Dundee City Council area.
In total 16,694 “bed days” were lost through delayed discharges over the 21-month period.
A delayed discharge is when a person is well enough to leave hospital, but proper arrangements for follow-up health or social care at home are not yet in place.
As such, they cannot be discharged — “blocking” another patient from accessing a bed.
David Lynch, chief officer for Dundee Health and Social Care Partnership, which brings together health and social care services for individuals and communities in Dundee, said: “We work very closely with NHS Tayside, health and social care partnerships and third sector partners in Tayside to build sustainable solutions that seek to reduce unscheduled care and demand and avoid unnecessary delays in discharging patients from hospital.
“The majority of the people delayed have complex needs which require tailored support requirements or legal procedures to be completed.
“We have invested in a range of additional community supports and have agreed a programme of developments, including supported accommodation, to meet this need.
“In the last year, we have made good progress in reducing the delay patients may face when they are well enough to go home.
“We continue to develop a local improvement plan led by frontline staff to further reduce causes of any delay in the pathway.”
Mr Lynch added: “Dundee Health and Social Care Partnership has set out further plans to change the way community-based social care services can be delivered in a more effective and personalised way.
“Health and social care integration has given the partnership the ability to deploy an integrated health and social care resource more quickly and at the time of need.”