Figures from NHS England indicating delays to discharging patients have highlighted the growing impact of those left to languish in hospitals.
The data released last month indicated that the number of days "lost" by patients who needed the beds was the highest for more than three years. The number of hospital bed days lost because of delayed discharges in October was 78,424, an increase of approximately 8,000 on the same time last year. This is the highest increase seen since monthly data was first published in August 2010.
Concerns have been raised that these delays are causing blockages for new patients who need the beds, leading to overcrowding in accident and emergency departments, and ultimately leading to higher mortality rates.
The delays are being attributed to an inability to organise appropriate social care for patients leaving hospital, something being blamed on cuts. Poor community care is also thought to drive patients back into hospitals for readmissions, creating a vicious circle of acute care.
A statement from NHS England said: "Across the country we have urgent care working groups set up so the whole health and social care system is pulling together to tackle these important issues. The extra £150 million that we have just released will help. We need to get every penny we can working hard for patients."
A spokesperson for the Department of Health in England said in an average week NHS hospitals in England admitted a quarter of a million patients, and in that context the number of delays was very low.
"But no patients should experience unnecessary delays. We know hospitals need to join up better with social care and community services and are investing £3.8 billion in making this happen.
Original Source BBC News
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