Bed-blocking was worst in country

AT THE height of the bed blocking crisis Fife hospitals had the single highest proportion of delayed discharges per occupied bed in Scotland, says a new report.

But health bosses have hit back, saying that £500,000 of funding pledged to combat the problem had turned the situation around.

Figures released by NHS Scotland’s Information Services Division this week showed, at the time of their check in January, almost 14 per cent of the beds in Fife hospitals were taken up with people who were well enough to leave hospital, but could not be discharged because of a lack of care provision in the community or a care home space.

The report said that 156 of the 1123 people in beds in Fife’s hospitals were waiting to be discharged. This number is an increase on the figure of 103 in October.

Rising figures

And 61 of the number had waited over six weeks, the length of time deemed unacceptable by the Scottish Government.

Councillor Andrew Rodger, who has been drawing attention to the issue of delayed discharges or ‘bed blocking’ for some time, said that the figures were not good enough.

He said: “The health minister must be very depressed and angry about these figures. We’ve seen the whole figure rise from 606 up to 790 in one year.

“And for people waiting for over six weeks, there has been a rise of 100 per cent. We are not getting people out quickly enough.

‘‘We need to look at aids and adaptations and we need the Council and the NHS working together and that hasn’t been happening. We need one body to control the whole situation.

A joint statement from Peter Grant, leader of Fife Council, and Professor Jim McGoldrick, chairman of NHS Fife, said that £500,000 the Council and health authority pledged to deal with the problem was having a significant impact.

Joint funding

They added: “This was before the joint funding and actions had time to kick in.

‘‘The position has significantly improved with no outstanding funding issues and where the number of those waiting has been driven down by 77 per cent with steps being taken to ensure they are discharged as quickly and safely as possible according to their needs.”