The number of NHS patients waiting needlessly in hospital despite being well enough to leave has risen by nearly 10% in a year, official figures show.
The latest NHS Scotland statistics reveal that, in February 2019, 1,419 people had their discharge from hospital delayed.
This is a 9% increase on the February 2018 census point, when 1,297 people were delayed.
The most common reason for delayed discharge was health and social care reasons, including the lack of a social care package.
The total number of days spent in hospital by people whose discharge was delayed in February 2019 was 40,813. This is a 6% increase on the previous year.
Of those delayed at the February 2019 census point, 1,122 were delayed more than three days, with health and social care reasons accounting for 808 (72%) patients and complex needs accounting for 267 (24%) patients.
Conservative MSP Miles Briggs said: “Delayed discharge decreases hospital capacity, costs millions of tax payers pounds a year and, most importantly, is bad for patients who don’t want to be stuck in a hospital bed once they are medically fit to leave.
“It is not the fault of patients who aren’t able leave hospital that they don’t have anywhere to go, the blame falls solely at the feet of the SNP which has allowed this crisis to develop.”
Labour’s Monica Lennon blamed underinvestment in social care.
She said: “It’s time the Scottish Government kept its word and put the dignity and well-being of people in need of social care first.”
Liberal Democrat Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “Well over 1,000 are stuck in hospital on any given day when they are well enough to go home because there isn’t enough care available in the community. That’s a disgrace.”
Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said: “No-one should have to spend unnecessary time in hospital once treatment is complete.
“That is why we are allocating more than £700 million to support social care and integration in 2019-20, helping to reduce delays in the system.
“While many health and social care partnerships are performing well, a small number are accounting for a significant proportion of the delays.
“It’s therefore vital that we continue to share good practice throughout the system.”