The number of people who have to stay in hospital despite being well enough to leave has reached a new high.
Figures from January showed there were 1,640 patients whose discharge had been delayed, a rise of 11% from the same month a year before and the highest total since revised data definitions came into place in July 2016.
NHS statistics for the first month of this year showed patients who were well enough to leave went on to spend a further 47,529 days in hospital.
This marked an increase of 8% on the total of 43,863 recorded in January 2019.
Of those patients whose discharge was delayed, 1,308 had to stay in hospital an extra three days or more.
Some 474 patients remained in hospital for between three days and two weeks, while there were 18 patients who had been delayed by a year or more.
Waiting for health and social care arrangements to be put in place was the reason why 1,314 patients were kept in hospital in January.
Labour health spokeswoman Monica Lennon said: “Time and time again the SNP has promised to end delayed discharge and yet the numbers of patients stuck in hospital is continuing to increase.
“Delayed discharge is very distressing for patients and their families and is putting the NHS under serious pressure.
“It is deeply disappointing that the SNP has failed to provide social care with the funding it needs to tackle delayed discharge at this year’s budget.
“Scottish Labour would invest in a Scottish Care Service to provide the joined up service we need to end delayed discharge.”
Liberal Democrat health spokesman Alex Cole-Hamilton said there was “now a record number of people stuck in hospital because of avoidable health and social care delays”.
He added: “No-one wants to be stuck in hospital when they are well enough to return home or be cared for in the community.
“People can be stranded there for months after medical staff have declared them well enough to leave.
“We are seeing this bottleneck because too often community care just doesn’t exist, causing hospitals to become congested right up to critical care units.
“The SNP promised to eradicate this problem years ago but now we see it is actually worse than ever.”