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NHS figures show delays in discharging patients

Recent NHS figures have revealed that the delays in discharging patients in England once they are fit to leave hospital are at their highest in more than three years.

Senior doctors working in accident and emergency departments say it is a major cause for concern. NHS England said it was aware of the problem, but care working groups across the country were tackling the rising number of days lost by patients who need the beds.

The health service are struggling to discharge patients who are fit to leave the hospital, meaning there is a significant delay in the beds being made available to others who need them. Figures from NHS England show the number of hospital bed days lost because of delayed discharges in October was 78,424.

That number is up by almost 8,000 on the same time last year, and the highest since monthly data was first published in August 2010.

The figures also highlight the growing problem of putting the appropriate social care in place so that patients can be discharged safely with the right support at home or in a care home.
Social care difficulties were responsible for 14,830 of the days lost in October. This is the highest since April 2011.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health in England said in an average week NHS hospitals in England admitted a quarter of a million patients, and in that context the number of delays was very low.

"But no patients should experience unnecessary delays. We know hospitals need to join up better with social care and community services and are investing £3.8bn in making this happen."