Central Scotland list MSP Graham Simpson is calling for urgent action after figures revealed that delayed discharge of patients cost NHS Lanarkshire nearly £17m last year.
The number of patients occupying hospital beds when they no longer require hospital treatment is sure to be a blow to Health Secretary Shona Robison who promised three years ago she would eradicate delayed discharge in just one year.
NHS Scotland confirmed that 368,808 of the 494,123 total bed days lost last year due to delayed discharge were for health and social care reasons, with the Lanarkshire hospitals losing 72,285 between them.
Lanarkshire was second only to Lothian which lost 120,210 bed days at a cost of £28m
The majority (75 per cent) of delayed discharge is because there is a delay in patients moving into the social care system.
Mr Simpson claims the NHS can ill-afford to lose money that could be better spent on training more staff at the three Lanarkshire hospitals.
Mr Simpson said “Another week and another crisis for the NHS. The Scottish Government has no one to blame but themselves for this mess.
“The figure of 72,285 bed days lost due to delayed discharge is scandalous, especially on the back of the promise made three years ago by Shona Robison to eradicate delayed discharge.
“Ms Robison and her department really need to get a grip and start showing leadership as the moral of hospital staff is at rock bottom with many leaving the profession in droves as a result.
“The £17m that bed delay is costing NHS Lanarkshire is money they can ill-afford to lose, it could be put to better use on training and retaining front-line medical staff.
“The Scottish Government has to be held to account on this terrible state of affairs. It is happening on their watch and the people who cherish the NHS and all it stands for will make their feelings known in no uncertain terms at the next election.”
However, there may be some hope on the horizon with figures from the Information Services Division, part of NHS Scotland, showing that in March there were 1405 fewer occupied bed days and 45 fewer daily delays in comparison with the previous year.
This was at a time of increased referrals for social care support from hospitals and is in line with a pattern of improvement since December.
Janice Hewitt, chief officer of Health and Social Care North Lanarkshire, said: “Reducing delayed discharges is one of our key priorities and we are pleased that we are seeing improvements, although we are not being complacent and continue to take steps to improve this further.
“For example, to support more assessment and rehabilitation in the community we are currently developing integrated locality teams which will help patients return to their home earlier and provide support to them once they are there.
“We are also expanding a new model of specialist home support services which will help to provide additional support, enabling people to live more independent lives.
“We have also improved our pathway for home support referrals within the hospital.”