Sturgeon- Pensioner’s five month delayed hospital discharge ‘unacceptable’

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will explore offering abortion access to women in Northern Ireland. Picture: Greg Macvean

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will explore offering abortion access to women in Northern Ireland. Picture: Greg Macvean

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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said the case of an 83-year-old man who has spent nearly five months in hospital after being declared fit to go home is “unacceptable”.

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George Ballantine, of Edinburgh, was taken to hospital for treatment after falling in March and despite being cleared for discharge in June, he is still waiting to go home.

Liberal Democrat MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton raised Mr Ballantine’s case and the problem of delayed discharges at First Minister’s Questions on Thursday.

The MSP said: “He was declared fit to go home in early June, yet on three occasions he was advised to get ready to go the next morning but the care package fell through.

“Last night George spent his 150th night in Liberton Hospital after being declared fit to go home.

“Given that the Cabinet secretary for health two years ago said that this Government was committed to eradicating delayed discharge, will the First Minister take this opportunity to explain to George and his family why he is still in hospital?”

Ms Sturgeon said Mr Ballantine’s situation is “unacceptable” and Health Secretary Shona Robison is aware of the case and plans to write to Mr Cole-Hamilton about it.

She added: “The Government is of course committed to eradicating delayed discharges and we are making progress towards that aim.

“The reason we have integrated health and social care services is to try to ensure that individuals do not fall through the gaps in the system as, from what Alex Cole-Hamilton has said, appears to be happening in this case.”

The latest statistics on delayed discharge in Scotland revealed that in August, 1,472 patients spent an overall total of 45,551 days in hospital after being told they were fit to go home.

The majority, 70%, of those affected were aged 75 or older and 22% of delays were for people with “specific complex care needs”.

From the remaining 1,152 patients affected, 32% were waiting for a place to become available in a care home, 31% were waiting for social care to be arranged to support them in their own home, and 13% were waiting for a post-hospital social care assessment.