Western Isles Health board defends its record on delayed discharges from hospital

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NHS Western Isles (NHSWI) has defended its track record on delayed discharges from hospital.

This follows claims by the Labour Party in the Western Isles that the health board had spent more than £1.6 million ‘keeping patients in hospital last year despite them being fit to go home’.

In their statement, the Labour Party stated that there had been ‘a failure to end delayed discharges from hospital due to an underfunding of social care’, and concluded that ’the SNP-Green budget, which cuts a further £230.7million from council funding, will only make the situation worse’.


According to the Labour Party, figures recently published by ISD Scotland show that there were more than half a million lost bed days throughout Scotland in 2018.

The figures quoted by Labour state that the estimated cost of each day of delay was £234, and the Labour Party’s statement concluded that the Western Isles had some of the highest figures in Scotland for delayed discharge, at more than 7000 days.

Labour’s candidate in the Western Isles for the next Westminster General Election, Alison MacCorquodale, said: “Cash-strapped health boards like our own here in the Western Isles are spending millions keeping people in hospital when they don’t need to be there.

“This is largely down to the crisis in social care, which in the Western Isles also includes the difficulty in attracting staff because of low rates of pay and the pressures which under-funding creates.

“Labour is proposing a National Care Workers Guarantee with a commitment to secure hours, a living wage and reimbursement for travel and training time.

“It is clear from these figures that keeping people in hospital when they could be at home makes no sense for the patient, the NHS or the taxpayer.”


Responding to Labour’s claims, NHSWI released a statement claiming that the number of delayed discharges per-month had significantly reduced since February 2017.

Figures released by NHSWI show that in the period July 2016 to January 2017 there were an average of 25-30 delayed discharges per month.

But, since February 2017, NHSWI claims, the average number of delayed discharges fell to 15 per month, with most delays lasting for less than four weeks.

NHSWI’s statement said: “NHS Western Isles has taken action to reduce the number of delayed discharges from hospital over the last two years and as a result of the hard work across the local health and care system, has greatly improved performance.

“NHSWI continues to strive to work with local partners to deliver further improvement in reducing delay discharge numbers.”