‘Progress’ made but ‘bed-blocking’ cost NHS Tayside £1.2m

It’s estimated that a single instance of bed-blocking costs £233 a day.

Nearly two-thirds of over-75s were unable to leave hospital despite being ready to — costing the public purse £1.2m in six months.

Figures measuring performance in the Dundee Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) have revealed that 60% of all delayed discharges — or “bed-blocking” — are due to so-called “code 9s”.

Code 9s are used to cover “complex” circumstances for a patient being unable to leave hospital.

These include patients being delayed because they need to be moved into specialist residential care that isn’t available.

Other examples of code 9s include when appropriate care isn’t close enough to home to be easily reachable by friends and family.

This can lead to patients being sat in hospital, ready to leave, but unable to do so because their future care requirements aren’t ready.

In all, between April and September 2017, 5,419 bed-days were lost to bed-blocking among over-75s due to code 9s, out of a total of 8,965.

The NHS estimates that a single instance of bed-blocking costs £233 a day — meaning that among code 9s alone, the bill for bed-blocking in Dundee was £1,262,627.

And as a whole, bed-blocking in Dundee cost £2.1m in the six- month period between April and September.

North East Scottish Conservative MSP Bill Bowman said delayed discharges were putting the NHS under “incredible strain”, adding: “Our acute hospitals are less and less able to function as beds are being used by delayed discharge patients.

“NHS Tayside faces having to save millions of pounds every year and any delays make that figure harder to achieve.”

The target for code 9s has not been met for months — but the number of bed-days lost as a result of bed-blocking is falling, according to a report set to be reviewed by the HSCP’s performance and audit committee this week.

The report noted: “The rate of bed days lost to delayed discharges for people aged 75 and over has decreased by 48% in Dundee since 2015/16, which is an improvement.”

By the end of the 2017/18 financial year in March, health bosses expect more than 14,000 bed days to have been lost to delayed discharges. However, they hope to lower this by about half by the end of 2018/19.

According to the HSCP the majority of code 9s for over-75s are related to the legal barriers associated with adults incapable of making decisions.

A spokesman for the Dundee Health and Social Care Partnership said the body had made a “commitment” to reducing the number of adults in that position waiting to be discharged.

He added: “We have made progress in Dundee in relation to enabling people to be discharged when they are ready but we also recognise that further work is needed to support patients who have a complexity of needs.”