Delayed discharge pledge

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Health chiefs have pledged to continue their work to minimise the number of delayed discharges for patients in Argyll and Bute.

A report to a board meeting of the area’s health and social care partnership (HSCP) on March 30 revealed delayed discharges were continuing.

Capacity levels in the area’s hospitals are also set to improve with the relaxation of social distancing measures, it was claimed at the meeting.

A delayed discharge occurs when a patient, clinically ready for discharge, cannot leave hospital because the other necessary care, support or accommodation for them is not readily accessible, and/or funding is not available.

Susan Ringwood, non-executive director of NHS Highland, asked: ‘This is one of the most important indicators for us, because it shows how good our system is. Is it the same people or new ones, or has one person been there for six months?’

Caroline Cherry, the HSCP’s head of adult services, responded: ‘It is not the same people. There is movement that goes on. We compile the report every week and look at who is waiting.

‘We are able to see how long people have been waiting and have cited reasons why they are waiting. I can’t give you the longest wait but we look at how to remove some of the delays if possible.

‘It is a huge area to work around this in terms of unscheduled care, but we just about to record each unscheduled care programme. But you are right; it shows the flow in our system.’

George Morrison, the HSCP’s deputy chief officer, added: ‘It is generally different people. We have 33 current delayed discharges across nine hospitals. It gets a lot of attention and we review it every week.

‘We also ensure action is being taken to get people discharged from hospital. We make every effort we can to minimise the numbers and ensure a regular flow of patients through the system.’

Argyll and Bute Council’s then policy lead for health and social care, councillor (now candidate) Kieron Green, asked: ‘I know we have some pretty good graphics showing the data from Greater Glasgow and Clyde, which quite clearly shows the impact of the pandemic on the increase in waiting times.

‘How are we going about trying to tackle that and get back to the previous situation? Is there any potential for utilising any more capacity in Glasgow or Argyll and Bute?’

Kristin Gillies, the HSCP’s senior service planning manager, said: ‘We get money from the government with regards to waiting time targets. In 2021/22 we got £540,000 and we have just put a bid in.

‘We work closely with Glasgow around our performances, but are struggling with recruitment and absence.

‘We are also struggling with capacity, although it is getting better, because with social distancing reducing more beds can be put in.’