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: