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Delayed discharge patients stuck in hospital even longer

Delayed discharge patients across Scotland faced even longer waits in hospital last year, new figures have shown.

The average patient whose release had been held up waited for an average of 11 days after they were fit to leave.

That’s an increase of two days from the previous year, and the highest since the figures were published in detail in 2016/17.

Delayed discharge occurs when a patient is physically fit to leave hospital, but has nowhere to go, often due to lack of care home spaces or home social care packages.

The annual report into delayed discharge revealed there were 18,157 patients across the country whose discharge was delayed last year.

That’s an increase from 17,184 in 2021/22 and 14,375 the year before that.

There were 22,294 in 2019/20, but the average length of wait has continued to rise.

The Scottish Government has made repeated pledges to tackle delayed discharge, with Deputy First Minister Shona Robison promising in 2015 to fully eradicate it by the end of that year.


Pamela Nash, chief executive of Scotland in Union, said:

“Delayed discharge has been a problem that the SNP government has never managed to get to grips with.

“Despite repeated pledges, thousands of vulnerable people across Scotland find themselves trapped in hospital despite being fit to leave every year.

“To make matters worse, the average time these patients are being forced to wait has risen to an unacceptable high.

“The SNP has been in full charge of health and social care since 2007, yet 16 years on the situation around delayed discharge remains a complete disgrace.

“It’s yet more evidence of a distracted government which has simply never made the NHS a priority, and the most vulnerable people are paying the price.”

The full report can be seen here.

The first tab of the Excel file shows the average length of delay for patients at the point of discharge.

2022/23 – 11 days

2021/22 – 9 days

2020/21 – 7 days

2019/20 – 7 days

2018/19 – 8 days

2017/18 – 8 days

2016/17 – 9 days


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