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Pressure on hospital beds: The lack of care and support staff in residential and home care services means there
is not sufficient capacity for hospital patients who are clinically fit for discharge. These delays create significant financial and clinical pressures on acute hospitals.
The Government’s analysis46 shows that difficulties in arranging social care for people leaving hospital is a key factor contributing to delayed discharges.
Around 64% of delayed hospital discharges were due to lack of social care, including 24% of patients with delayed discharges awaiting the start of home- based care, 16% awaiting residential or nursing home placements, and 24% waiting to begin intermediate care.
From this government report, it is possible to appreciate the incredible inefficiency in the system and the terrible impact on the affected individuals trapped at both ends of it. From the critically ill experiencing worsening health whilst awaiting treatment, to those unable to return to their home for want of adequate support
– the individual human tragedies are growing.
Increased delays in care transfers: A House of Commons Library report47 showed that in December 2022, an average of 13,440 patients a day remained in hospital despite no longer meeting the criteria to stay. This was 30% more than the daily average for December 2021. As well as increasing pressures on hospital capacity, the report says that delayed discharges can lead to poorer outcomes for people and contribute to a loss of independence,
despite no longer meeting the criteria to stay. £1.7bn cost to the NHS: The King’s Fund48 estimate
that the direct costs of delayed discharges alone in 2022/23 was at least £1.7 billion (excluding additional costs from activities such as cancelled operations
or staff time spent arranging care packages).
 46. ’Delivery plan for recovering urgent and emergency services’, NHS England, January 2023
47. ‘Delayed hospital discharges and adult social care’, House of Commons Library, February 2023
48. ‘The hidden problems behind delayed discharges and their costs’, The King’s Fund, March 2023

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