Charity calls for action over hospital deaths

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A total of 59 people died in Ayrshire and Arran hospitals while waiting to be discharged.

Age Scotland called the deaths “tragic” and said urgent action is needed to tackle the growing problem of delayed discharges and an over-stretched social care system.

A Freedom of Information request by the charity revealed that 474 patients, mainly older people, died in Scottish hospitals after their discharge was delayed.

Age Scotland’s research earlier this year also found that the waiting times to recieve an assessment had dropped across NHS Ayrshire and Arran .

In 2017, the average wait was four weeks – down to under two in 2018, well below the Scottish Government’s six week guidelines.

Brian Sloan, chief executive of Age Scotland, said: “It’s tragic that hundreds of Scottish people died while stuck in hospital last year, instead of in their home or community.

“These are people who were well enough to be discharged, but most were delayed because the social care they needed was not available.

“While these deaths were not caused by delays, we know that spending unnecessary time in hospital increases the risk of mobility loss and infection, as well as loneliness and isolation.

“Many of these people had been in hospital for weeks, spending the end of their lives feeling isolated on hospital wards instead of in the comfort of familiar surroundings.

“The overwhelming majority of people say they would prefer to die at home if possible, or at least in the comfortable setting of a care home.”

He continued: “Despite the Scottish Government’s repeated promises to tackle delayed discharges, these figures show that the problem is spiraling out of control.

“We urgently need more investment in our social care system, so that every older person can access the care they are entitled to.”