Commenting on today’s Parliamentary statement in Holyrood by the First Minister John Swinney on the Scottish Government’s priorities,  Professor Andrew Elder, President of the Royal College of Physicians, said:

The First Minister’s pledge to continue to support the NHS is obviously welcome and this support remains very much necessary given the ongoing workforce challenges across the NHS with many physicians continuing to work under severe pressure due to staff shortages.

John Swinney is also right to pledge to reduce delayed discharges but actually achieving this has proved extremely difficult for a number of years now and the levels of delayed discharge remain at record levels. These high levels of delayed discharge are impacting on patient flow throughout our hospitals as doctors struggle to move patients from A&E to in-patient acute wards, due to a lack of capacity. As we have stated repeatedly, government must pay serious attention to getting patients who are medically fit to leave out of hospitals and into appropriate care settings. Delays in discharge do not only affect patient flow through our hospitals, but they are also detrimental to the welfare of patients and their families.

We also remain very concerned with the pressures facing the care home sector where any reduction in care home capacity will intensify the problem of delayed discharge from hospitals. The Scottish Government must work closely with the sector to help ensure its sustainability and tackle its own workforce challenges.