NHS Fife will discharge 60 hospital patients before Christmas after crisis talks with the Scottish Government, Health Secretary Shona Robison has revealed.
Pressed by local Labour MSP Claire Baker after The Courier brought to light a multi-million funding black hole relating to delayed discharges, Ms Robison outlined details of a “positive and constructive” meeting with the health board and local authority.
A staggering 11,285 bed days in the Kingdom were taken up by patients who did not need to be in hospital during the third quarter of this year, according to new figures.
Ms Robison said: “We discussed a clear and agreed plan between the council and the health board, which they are implementing to tackle the issue.
“The plan includes the discharge of up to 60 patients before Christmas and the joint funding of the council and the health board to continue that plan for the rest of this financial year.
“We also agreed with NHS Fife and Fife Council that they would continue to work with the Scottish Government on service and funding transition, to ensure that they take maximum benefit from their plans for integration, which will take place from April.”
The Dundee East MSP said an additional £836,000 has been allocated to NHS Fife since August to address the issues relating to delayed discharge and insisted her “top priority” is to make progress resolving the issue.
In a letter to former health secretary, Alex Neil, NHS Fife chairman Allan Burns said the health board was being forced to provide clinically inappropriate inpatient care because of delayed discharge pressures.
Mid Scotland and Fife representative Ms Baker said: “We have seen a doubling of locum costs, a reduction in the number of beds, and nursing shortages.”
She added: “It has been reported in The Courier today that NHS Fife and Fife Council have identified a £3 million funding gap that they are working together to address. How can the Scottish Government help to address that?”
Cowdenbeath MSP Alex Rowley renewed his call for an independent review into the health board.
He added: “The letter is damning, especially as it comes from the chairman of NHS Fife and supports the concerns we’ve been raising.”
Meanwhile, Nicola Sturgeon was attacked over a damning report highlighting “significant deficiencies” in the management of Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.
The First Minister insisted patient safety was not put at risk at the troubled hospital, despite being told staff shortages were so severe that doctors were being flown in from India and Jamaica.
Ms Sturgeon said: “While I am not defending anything in that report, that report was very careful to say patient safety had not been compromised.”