Hundreds of patients dying on delayed discharge lists

January 2017


Nearly 700 patients have died waiting on a delayed discharge waiting list since the SNP government pledged to abolish the practice.

In February 2015, SNP Health Secretary Shona Robison promised to eradicate delayed discharge from the NHS completely by the end of that year.

However, freedom of information requests from Scottish Labour reveal that at least 683 patients in Scotland died while waiting to be discharged from hospital from March 2015 until September 2016.

Figures are expected to be higher as some health boards were unable to reveal total figures as it may have identified the individual patients.

A delayed discharge is identified as a hospital inpatient judged clinically ready to leave hospital, who continues to occupy a bed beyond the ‘ready for discharge’ date.

These patients are clinically ready to move on to a more appropriate care setting either within or outwith the NHS - such as the patient’s home or a care home.

Labour said the figures showed the need to invest in social care, as the failure of the SNP to invest in social care has increased the pressure on our hospitals.

Labour Health spokesperson Anas Sarwar said:

“These are horrifying figures.

“Almost every health board in Scotland has seen a delayed discharge death.

“This shows that delayed discharges are not just detrimental to patient flow and the running of our hospitals, but that they can be seriously dangerous for the patients involved.

“We know how undervalued and over stretched our NHS staff are, and they should be supported by a proper system to help patients out of hospital as soon as possible.

“Nearly two years ago Shona Robison promised to eradicate delayed discharge out of our NHS – instead the problem is now getting worse and increasing the pressure on our hospitals.

“Further cuts to local councils which provide social care will only add to this, and it shows the complete mismanagement of our NHS under the SNP.

“Fixing delayed discharge will begin to relieve the pressure on our hospitals and NHS staff, allowing for better patient care for everyone – but we can only do that if we invest properly in local services.

“After a decade in government it beggars belief that the SNP still has not realised that.”

Freedom of information request from Scottish Labour reveals that at least 683 patients died in hospital whilst waiting for discharge between March 2015 and September 2016:


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