One in six hospital patients fit for discharge

  • Date: 24 March 2023

ONE in six hospital patients (15 per cent) in England in December 2022 were there due to delayed discharge, according to analysis by the Nuffield Trust.

Data from NHS England also reveals that the number of patients held up in hospital for three weeks when ready for discharge grew from an average of 2,350 in October 2020 to 6,390 in December 2022.

The data analysis by the Nuffield Trust, published as part of the QualityWatch programme with the Health Foundation, also looked at factors behind delayed hospital discharge.

It showed that 35 per cent of patients in hospital for an additional seven or more days were delayed for “process” reasons, such as needing further assessment (19 per cent), a discharge summary, agreement on necessary further care or “other” reasons. Another 25 per cent were waiting for a care package at home either for community health services, social care or both. A further 22 per cent were waiting for a short-term bed (for example for rehabilitation), and 18 per cent were waiting for a permanent bed in a care or nursing home.

Dr Sarah Scobie, Deputy Director of Research at the Nuffield Trust commented: “Month after month we see performance figures from the NHS showing how long people are waiting to get admitted to hospital or see a specialist. But there is much less routine data on the other side of the story: people who are ready to leave hospital but can’t get out.

“Our figures shed light on this issue, revealing a complex mix of problems including delayed hospital discharge processes, a lack of NHS community services and more well-known problems in social care.”

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