Edinburgh hospitals struggling to tackle late discharges as bed blocking crisis laid bare

Bed blocking is proving to be a significant issue for the Capital.
Bed blocking is proving to be a significant issue for the Capital.
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The city council administration has tallied up three times more late discharges from hospital than its target every month since taking office.

A damning report, due to be discussed by the council’s Corporate Policy and Strategy Committee tomorrow, reveals that the SNP-Labour administration’s health and social care policy has failed to turn around its performance.

When the coalition took over at City Chambers in May 2017, 168 people were discharged late from hospitals in Edinburgh – against a target of 50 per month.

The number has failed to drop below the 150 mark each month – and peaked in March with 267 late discharges.

Since new chief officer of the Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership, Judith Proctor, was appointed – the number has reduced slightly with 226 in May.

The number of people waiting for a care home package in the community has risen every month since April 2017 and has more than doubled in the space of 12 months.
The report points to “a more radical whole-systems approach” to try and tackle the failings.

It also highlights “a degree of correlation between the increased pressures on waiting lists for assessment and the embedding of the new locality model of delivery”, set up by the authority.

Ms Proctor said: “In recognition of this level of performance, the Edinburgh Integration Joint Board has committed additional resources toward improvement. In particular, improved performance in terms of the number of people waiting on social care assessments in the community and, separately, the number of people waiting in hospital on care home placements.

“There are very encouraging signs on the impact this is having in these two areas and we are grateful to staff for their hard work in driving this forward and to the providers we have worked with to provide a better, more sustainable, deal for all involved.”

She added: “There is no denying that these improvements have been offset by challenges in our performance in the provision of care at home.

“We are clear that this relates, at its root, to the availability of care within the community related to the challenge in recruitment and retention of staff in Edinburgh’s labour market, in care and we are working with care provider organisations to see how we can help them deliver in a more sustainable fashion in future.

“We would expect this would lead to more investment by the IJB in this area.”

Leader of the Conservative group, Cllr Iain Whyte has labelled the performance as “pretty abysmal”.

He added: “The whole area was in crisis a year ago as described by an external report.

“A year on, things are not really any better and in the interim, they got worse.

“We will be pushing hard to see the improvements as quickly as possible. I’m genuinely shocked and upset over the lack of focus from the SNP and Labour administration that has allowed this situation to happen. It’s pretty shameful that some of our most vulnerable residents are not receiving the service and support they deserve and need.”