Dundee could be heading for a social care crisis after new figures revealed more over-75s are spending longer in hospital due to a lack of community care.
As of last month, a lack of social care provision was blamed for 67.5% of bed days lost to delayed discharge among over-75s – up from 30% in June 2017.
Conversely, bed days lost due to delays in arranging more complex care needs – so-called code nine needs – have fallen from 67% to 23% in the same period.
In June, over-75s spent a total of 336 extra days in hospital beds than necessary – putting the bill for over-75s alone at £78,624.
Campaigners and politicians have called for action to be taken.
Dorothy McHugh, secretary of Dundee Pensioners Forum, said: “In general terms, any delay in discharge is worrying.
“It is important to remember that real people lie behind these numbers.
“Keeping elderly people in hospital beyond what is absolutely necessary for their care needs causes upset and stress for them, their families and carers.”
North East MSP Bill Bowman said the changing reasons for so-called “bed-blocking” have serious implications for social care.
Mr Bowman said: “These figures raise serious questions about the way in which the social care system is operating in Tayside.
“Delays like this are extremely difficult for patients, and especially for this age group.
“The integration of health and social care was always going to be challenging (but) the system must be properly resourced in order to work – and SNP cuts to local budgets are not helping.”
Scottish Labour shadow health secretary Monica Lennon said: “The surge of delayed discharges due to lack of social care packages in the last two years is unacceptable.
“The integration of health and social care will not succeed unless SNP ministers make the right resources available.”
The rise in delays comes amid a 35% rise in care hours provided in Dundee each week since 2010 – despite a 14% fall in people receiving care in the same period.
A spokeswoman for NHS Tayside says it is working with health and social care partnerships (HSCPs) to get people home sooner.
She added: “Our commitment to patients is that they should not have to wait unnecessarily for the most appropriate care to be provided after treatment.”
Dundee HSCP has insisted the majority of patients still leave hospital on time.
A spokeswoman said: “As a result of ongoing service redesign and partnership approaches, the majority of patients accessing acute care are supported to return home in line with their planned discharged date.
“In particular, a range of initiatives to support older people to be stepped down from acute care to more appropriate community settings has resulted in a significant reduction in their length of stay in a hospital.
“This is further supported by community care developments which support older people to receive health interventions at home.”
The spokeswoman said that plans are being drawn up to deliver more care in the community, including for those with complex needs or other legal obstacles preventing discharge.
She added: “We have invested in a range of additional community supports and have agreed a programme of developments, including supported accommodation.”