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Delayed discharge costs NHS Highland £10.7 million a year, according to MSP Rhoda Grant

By Scott Maclennan

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Rhoda Grant MSP at Raigmore
Rhoda Grant MSP at Raigmore

Delayed discharge is costing cash strapped NHS Highland £10.7 million a year, according to MSP Rhoda Grant.

Numbers obtained by a Freedom of Information request by the Highland MSP show that in 2021/22 the north health board paid out a total of £10,737,308.

Mrs Grant argued that amid the broader crisis in Scotland’s NHS that the country “cannot afford to pay the price of the SNP” as overall the total figure came to just under £150 million.

On top of that, while waiting lists continued to soar, 38,693 bed days were lost over the course of 2021/22, piling even more pressure on already-stretched services in the Highlands last year.

Despite the Scottish Government promising in February 2015 to eradicate delayed discharge, it still costs NHS Scotland millions every year.

Scottish Labour says it is “symbolic of SNP failure to deliver on its promises and shows the damage done to public health and finances by SNP incompetence.”

Mrs Grant said: “Years on from the SNP promising to end the deadly and costly practice of delayed discharge, the problem still persists.

“In a year when services were already at breaking point, delayed discharge plundered vital funding for NHS Highland to the tune of £10,737,308.

“This whopping cost to the taxpayer has built up on Nicola Sturgeon’s watch and the disastrous Health Secretary, Humza Yousaf, has allowed it to soar.

“We cannot have patients left in hospital unnecessarily and the public purse drained due to poor provision of care for those leaving hospital.

“It’s time for [health secretary] Humza Yousaf to face the music and hand the role over to someone who is prepared to tackle the issue.”

Mr Yousaf said in response: “In common with health services across the UK and globally, NHS Scotland working under significant pressure and the pandemic continues to affect services. Social Care has been hit by Brexit, which has impacted staffing, the pandemic and now high energy and inflation costs, all putting significant pressure on the sector.

“A Ministerial Advisory Group has now been established to discuss and tackle current system pressures. The group meets weekly with the Deputy First Minister, Health Ministers and Minister for Local Government all in attendance.

“Funding is also being used to rapidly scale up Hospital at Home services with a further £3.6million made available in the 2022/23 budget, to reduce acute admissions and support timely discharge.

"Funding of £124million has been allocated to enhance care at home capacity; £200million to increase the hourly rate of pay to £10.50; £20million to provide interim care arrangements; and £40million to enhance multi-disciplinary teams.”

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