THIRTY times more money was wasted on bed-blocking in Edinburgh hospitals last year than was spent on home adaptations which could allow patients to get out more quickly, Lothian Labour MSP Kezia Dugdale has claimed.
She said delayed discharges cost £18 million, while just £602,000 was spent on alterations or devices to help people manage at home.
And she criticised what she said was a lack of investment in home adaptations in Edinburgh.
Ms Dugdale said: “Home alterations represent much cheaper, more socially conscious solutions than keeping people in hospital when they don’t need to be there.
“The more resources spent on home adaptations, the less will be wasted on bed blocking and the less strain will be placed on already dwindling resources. Flipping this spending trend would be truly transformational.”
Delayed hospital discharges cost NHS Scotland more than £120m a year, with most of the delays due to people waiting for social care packages to allow them home.
Ms Dugdale said: “It is scandalous that already cash-strapped councils are spending millions keeping patients in hospital when they don’t need to be. This NHS crisis will only be compounded by the £230m worth of real-term cuts to local government when the SNP/Green budget takes hold.
“Added to this mess is the criminal lack of funding being directed towards home adaptations, which help people stay in their own homes, reduces spending on home visits and the pressure on care workers and hospitals.
“It’s time for the SNP health secretary Jeane Freeman to reissue the pledge made by her predecessor, commit to eradicate the practice of delayed discharge and provide more funds to adapt homes upfront. That spending now would save so much more in the future.”
A spokeswoman for the Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership said there were many causes of patients not being able to return home immediately after a period of acute care. She said: “Within Edinburgh we are starting to see real improvements in the rate at which patients get home quickly, safely and efficiently.
“However, less than 1 per cent of delayed discharges in Edinburgh are because of patients waiting for their home to be adapted.
“In instances where this is a significant factor, the requirement for home adaptations is identified and acted upon at the earliest possible stage.”