NHS Lothian ‘bed-blocking’ remains much lower than average in NHS England


Today as part of its wider proxy war on behalf of the opposition parties and against the SNP, the Scotsman reported:

‘NHS Lothian ‘bed-blocking’ figures 10% higher after error. One of Scotland’s largest health boards recorded ‘bed-blocking’ figures that were 10 percent higher than previously submitted due to a reporting error.  NHS Lothian posted statistics that were incorrect with data omitted that had to subsequently be revised by the Information Services Division.’


The revised figure for ‘beds days occupied by delayed discharges, all delays, 2017/18, to February 2018’, in NHS Lothian, was 10 428 days. No context is given in the report. We don’t know whether this 10% matters because it is 10% of a worrying figure in a wider UK context or whether it is 10% of a figure that is quite low in a UK context.


Bed-blocking is the result of delayed discharges where the patient is otherwise well-enough to be discharged but cannot be because arrangements for their continuing care or recuperation in the community, are not yet in place. The situation in England is more serious:

‘In 2016/17 there were 2.3 million delayed transfer days in England, an average of around 6,200 per day. The average number of delayed days for 2016/17 was 25% higher than the previous year.’

England has a population of 54.3 million. Lothian Health board covers a population of 890 000 (including Edinburgh) or 1/60th of that of NHS England. So, if bed-blocking was a comparable problem in Lothian, it would have 1/60th of the English figure of 2.3 million, or 38 333 days of bed-blocking, but it only had 10 428, in the same year, 2016/17. Bed-blocking in England is, thus, more than three times as bad.


Briefing Paper: Number 7415, 20 June 2017: Delayed transfers of care in the NHS:



3 thoughts on “NHS Lothian ‘bed-blocking’ remains much lower than average in NHS England

  1. Legerwood April 28, 2018 / 9:46 am

    The Scottish Government’s policy of Integration of Health and Social to tackle delayed discharges, or bed blocking, came into effect in April 2016. For the first few months while the Boards became established there was little or no change in the statistics on delayed discharges. But from a peak in October 2016 (48,104 days spent in hospital by people whose discharge was delayed) there has been a slow but steady decrease in the number of beds blocked by delayed discharges. In February 2018 it was 38,394 days.

    In December 2017, January 2018 and February 2018, when the flu outbreak was at its peak, the number of beds blocked because of delayed discharges decreased by 10% -11% compared to the corresponding months in 2016, 2017

    The system is working slowly but surely and by freeing us beds it helps to reduce the time people spend in A&E waiting for a bed as well as waiting times for routine admissions. But this is rarely acknowledged in the media or by opposition politicians whose comments tend to give the impression that nothing is being done to tackle the problem of delayed discharges

    Full statistics can be found here



  2. Derek April 29, 2018 / 9:42 pm

    I apologise on behalf of my mother. In her nineties with advanced alzheimers and returning cancer, she was in hospital for a month before returning home. Not in A&E but that’s not the point. She needed help, otherwise she wouldn’t be here today, and she got it. It took ages (and lots of ups and downs) before she was fit enough to be kicked out of hospital. She’s still marginal, but we hope she’ll be OK at home and will build up strength and fitness. Maybe aye, maybe och aye.
    In any case many thanks to caring staff and their perseverance.And apologies to other old souls waiting because my mum got in the way …
    I hate the words ‘bed blocking’. It’s a really shitty term.


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