CHRISTMAS MESSAGE: John Raine Chairman, NHS Borders

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Few of us would choose to occupy a hospital bed, especially at Christmastime, yet too many people find themselves stranded in hospitals when clinically they are ready to move on.

This may be back home with support and assistance, or to residential care or, temporarily, to a place where their needs can be assessed.

This is a big issue for the NHS in the Scottish Borders, as it is across the UK.

There have been weeks when up to 50 patients in the Borders General Hospital, along with our four community hospitals, have faced the dilemma of delay.

And only partnership endeavour and teamwork can turn the problem round.

The foundations are already there, and the Scottish Borders community is renowned for rallying to the cause of those in need.

Look at the success of the Margaret Kerr specialist palliative care unit.

Take the fact we now have 275 volunteers helping NHS Borders in a multitude of different roles, including social support for hospital patients who may not have regular visitors.

Consider the work going on through the health and social care partnership – health professionals working alongside council colleagues in social care and housing, with residential care home staff, with voluntary bodies and community volunteers.

There is much to do, and no one organisation has all the answers.

But we have a chance to turn things round, and this will be a key priority for all of us working together through 2018.

It is often said that new year resolutions are for breaking before the spring – but not the one that pledges to do away with delayed hospital discharges.

I wish your staff and readers a joyous Christmas and a healthy and hospital-free new year.