July this year marked another record figure in the NHS, with 185,000 people having their discharge delayed.
Problems surrounding availability of community care have a knock-on effect when it comes to discharging patients.
Vulnerable patients, and the elderly, are often stuck on the ward whilst staff make arrangement to ensure they are safe when discharged.
Nigel Edwards, of the Nuffield Trust health think-tank, said: “The figure for delays in discharging patients from hospital is particularly worrying. What’s more, I am very concerned that these official figures systematically understate the true scale of the problem – I think NHS England and the Department of Health should look more rigorously at the way they calculate these delays.”
July’s figures are up 25% on the same period last year.
Any problems discharging patients has an effect of the whole hospital, in particular A&E. These figures are more common in the winter months and not July.
Dr Mark Holland, president of the Society for Acute Medicine, told the BBC: “We should be winning in July, yet the latest statistics show urgent and emergency care under further strain and a considerable rise in delayed discharges.”
Discharge rates are not the only areas being effected by poor performance. Targets for A&E, cancer care, ambulance response times and waiting times for routine operations are all being missed.
In the past two years the A&E target has only been met twice. Ambulance services are increasing pressure to hit their target to respond to the most life-threatening calls, after missing it for the past 14 months.
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