The number of patients stuck in hospital beds across Fife has almost doubled in a year, according to new statistics.
A total of 120 people were recorded as stuck in delayed discharge across NHS Fife hospitals in January this year, up from 64 in the corresponding month in 2018.
The largest number of delayed discharges – 36% – were those awaiting completion of a care package.
More than a third of the delays for January involved people spending longer than one month in hospital.
The trend has prompted Fife Labour MSP Alex Rowley to call on on the region’s social care partners to urgently address the situation.
He said: “What we have to remember is that a delayed discharge is a person in hospital being told they are clinically ready to leave the hospital but who continues to occupy a hospital bed beyond the ready for discharge date.
“This is caused by a number of factors, such as waiting for assessments, waiting to be allocated a care package or funding to be put in place as well as transport or having adaptions made to support the person live at home.
“However, what we see here is more and more people stuck in hospitals because there is no care package ready for them to leave.
“Community care is such a vital resource, and without proper funding of social care packages we will see more and more people stuck in hospital beds when they could be at home.”
Figures reveal the average number of beds per day affected in Fife was as low as 62 in June last year, but that has steadily risen.
96 patients were in a delayed discharge situation by November, rising to 104 the following month.
“This is not the fault of our hardworking NHS staff, or dedicated care workers, but the fault of poorly funded health and social care services,” Mr Rowley.
“It is simply not fair to leave people in hospital beds because a care package can’t be sorted out for them and it is simply shocking that over a third of patients in January were stuck for over a month in hospital.”
Michael Kellet, director of the Fife health and social care partnership, said the figures highlight the fact that the demand for services is increasing and remains a huge “challenge” for partners.
“We know that for the health and wellbeing of people it is better to be at home or in a homely setting if clinical care is not required and we try hard to get people home as soon as possible,” he explained.
“In Fife we continue invest in and redesign our care at home services working with our in house team and independent local providers.
“Through our joining up care consultation we are also re-designing how we use care beds across Fife to ensure we get people into care environments which reflects their needs.”