ISD Scotland have published their annual report on delayed discharges

In 2018/19 there were 521,772 bed days occupied by people delayed in their discharge in NHSScotland. Of these 69% were occupied by people aged 75 years and over.

There has been a 6% increase in delayed discharge bed days between 2017/18 and 2018/19. Approximately 1 in 12 (8.5%) beds in NHSScotland were occupied by people who were delayed in their discharge.

The reasons for delay are:

  • awaiting completion of care arrangements
  • awaiting place availability
  • complex delay reasons
  • awaiting community care assessment
  • other including funding, transport, patient and family related reasons

In 2017/18 the estimated cost of delayed discharges in NHSScotland was £122 million, with an estimated average daily bed day cost of £248.

The College said:

This report highlights a yearly increase of 6% in delayed discharges since last year. Patients who have had their discharge delayed now account for about 1 in 12 hospital beds in Scotland. Many of those patients were delayed due to a complex set of reasons including awaiting for care arrangements to be completed, and awaiting community care assessment.

The impact of delayed discharges will be felt most by patients, and we are concerned that nearly 70% of delayed patients were 75 or over. Longer stays in hospital may be associated with increased risk of infection, reduced motivation, and low mood. Each of these factors can affect a patient’s health after they’ve left hospital, and can also increase their chances of readmission. Delayed discharges will also add pressure to staff working in health and care, who have been dealing with an increased workload.

Delayed discharges remain much higher than we would like, which is far from ideal given the continued pressures that NHS Scotland faces. We think that Integration Joint Boards (IJBs), which are responsible for health and social care integration in Scotland, should be prioritising delayed discharges as a matter of urgency. But care must be taken to ensure that quality of care is not harmed, when shifting the balance of care from hospitals to primary and community care.


Paul Gillen

Contact: Paul Gillen 0131 247 3658