Health chiefs have allocated a £4.5m emergency fund to tackle the “immediate pressure” caused by the delayed discharge of people waiting in hospital to be assessed for a care package in the Capital.
The move comes amid mounting pressure on the Edinburgh Integrated Joint Board to act in a bid to solve the care crisis which has brought services in the city to breaking point.
A leaked e-mail sent to the Evening News last week revealed plans to send healthy patients home who are currently bed blocking in hospital, without an appropriate care package in place.
The board who are responsible for providing health and social care in the Capital have come under fire after admitting the city regularly has the highest number of delayed discharges in Scotland.
They have pledged the one-off allocation to focus on reducing the backlog of assessments, care reviews, and delayed discharges. At present there are 1,913 people waiting for an assessment, of whom 1,100 had no involvement from health care professionals in the last year.
Bosses are also considering a one-off spend on additional care home placements and plan to reduce the backlog over the next seven months.
Councillor Ricky Henderson, Chair of the Edinburgh Integration Joint Board said: “The agreement, as well as the report on the wider improvement programme, paints a clear picture of where the service is right now and the immediate steps we need to take.
“For the Partnership to achieve long-term sustainability of health and social care services in the city, the immediate pressures from the backlog of demand, the service capacity limitations and the extreme pressures on acute services from people delayed in hospital must be addressed.
“Our aspiration of providing the right care in the right place at the right time can be realised if we continue to develop a programme to support long-term change in the way these services are delivered.”
Shadow Health Secretary Miles Briggs said he was “encouraged” that the board had acknowledged something needs to be done to address waiting times for assessments and delayed discharge.
He added: “What is especially encouraging is the Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnerships’ acknowledgement that something needs to be done about waiting times for assessments and delayed discharge.
“I am however wary that the Partnership had proposed £3 million in cuts to Health and Social Care in their latest budget and I would welcome the assurance that they do not plan to go ahead with these cuts.
“Waiting times for assessments and delayed discharge in Edinburgh are the worst in Scotland. There are still many challenges faced by the Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership, such as recruiting and retaining staff, but I will do everything I can to support the partnership in tackling these challenges.”
Scottish Labour MSP, Daniel Johnson said: “This additional money for health and social care is extremely welcome. “Delayed discharge is a national problem that must be addressed.”