FIFE’S hospital bosses have said bed blocking figures released this week remain ‘encouraging’, but said changes will have to be made for the future.
While the number of delayed discharges has improved greatly on the same period last year, Fife continues to be one of the worst in Scotland for the problem, and an ageing population threatens to make that worse.
The figures, from Scotland’s Information Services Division (ISD), showed 69 patients were stuck in hospitals in Fife in the first quarter of this year - taking up around six per cent of available hospital beds - with five of them delayed for more than six weeks; the national discharge target.
George Cunningham, NHS Fife lead for delayed discharges, said: “While there are five patients who have been delayed over six weeks overall these latest figures remain encouraging.
“From June, there has been month on month reduction in the total number of patients considered to be in delay, bringing our figures closer in line with other Boards in Scotland.
“Two thirds of our patients in delay leave hospital within three weeks, which is comparable with other boards regarding average length of stay.”
Mr Cunningham said the improvements - of around 30 per cent on the same time last year - can be attributed to ongoing commitment from NHS Fife, Fife Council and voluntary organisations to work together to target the issue of bed blocking.
However, as Fife continues to be one of the worst offenders in Scotland, Mr Cunningham added that more work still needs to be done.
“We are aware that there is a need to look at different strategies necessary for the longer term to address the anticipated increase in people over 75 in Fife,” he added.
“The ‘Reshaping Care for Older People Programme’ will transform the way services are delivered to older people in Fife, as continuing with the status quo is neither sensible nor affordable.”