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Hospital Discharge Delays Causing 'Higher Mortality Rates'

Figures Released By NHS Show Many Patients Face Long Waits Before Being Discharged


New figures released by the NHS have shown that many patients are being delayed from leaving hospital because of administrative problems.

Last month, according to the report, which was seen by the BBC, the number of days lost by patients that needed beds in emergency care was the highest in more than three years.

Exactly 78,424 days were lost in October 2013, up 8,000 on the same point in 2012 and the greatest amount since records began just months after the coalition government took power in 2010.

Previous reports have suggested that this problem is often caused by a lack of community nurses, who are trained to deal with the integration of recovering or terminal patients back into their homes or a hospice.

A statement released by NHS England, which was also carried by BBC News, highlighted that the organisation was well aware of the difficulties, but was confident the situation will be resolved in the coming months.

"Across the country we have urgent care working groups set up so the whole health and social care system is pulling together to tackle these important issues. The extra £150 million that we have just released will help. We need to get every penny we can working hard for patients," a spokesperson said.

The Department of Health also commented on the findings by stating that in the context of the actual number of patients discharged across the NHS every week - around 250,000 - 78,424 is actually a relatively low number.

Labour has been highly critical of recent government changes to the NHS and has said investments into managerial positions has created an "army of 12,000 bureaucrats".

Liz Kendall, shadow minister for older people, argued the costs of new area teams at NHS England would pay for 5,500 nurses or 17 million home visits for elderly, frail people in the community.

Coalition figures, however, argue that a restructuring of management systems is needed if cost savings are to be made safely.

Expert Opinion
These figures are obviously a concern and we hope the Government and the NHS is able to work quickly to assess how they intend to tackle the issue.

"A key part of ensuring the welfare of patients comes first is to make sure they are able to access the right levels of care and support at the right time. This can only happen if patients are properly assessed and then able to leave hospitals in a timely fashion which ensures others are able to be seen as soon as possible.

"Proper coordination is needed across all aspects of the health system if the quality of care offered to patients is to be improved and we hope that clear improvements can be made in the near future to reduce the concerns raised by these figures."
Lisa Jordan, Partner