MSP calling for action to tackle bed-blocking in Borders

Borders MSP Rachael Hamilton at Holyrood.
Borders MSP Rachael Hamilton at Holyrood.

Borders MSP Rachael Hamilton is calling for action to tackle bed-blocking at the region’s general hospital.

During this week’s portfolio questions session at the Scottish Parliament, Mrs Hamilton raised the issue of delayed discharges at the Borders General Hospital in Melrose with health secretary Shona Robison.

The Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire MSP told her: “NHS Scotland information services division statistics have revealed that NHS Borders lost, on average, 1,000 bed days a month over the past two years, which is just not good enough.

“What will the Scottish Government do to help rural health boards like NHS Borders ensure that when a patient is fit to leave, they can?”

Afterwards, she added: “This is a sorry state of affairs for patients in the Borders.

“This is bad for everyone. Fit and well people are trapped in hospital with nowhere to go.

“It remains the case that the Scottish Government do not understand rural health boards and the specific problems they face.

“Support must be given to find quicker ways of processing patient care packages in order to transition elderly people into a safe home or community setting.”

Ms Robison, MSP for Dundee City East, told her: “Scottish Government officials continue to work closely with the Borders health partnership to reduce the level of delays.

“A range of improvement measures has already been put in place, which has led to a reduction of more than 30% in bed days lost between November 2017 and April 2018.

“The Borders partnership has introduced a range of measures aimed at reducing delays, including an £850,000 investment in a step-down intermediate care facility and the development of a hospital-to-home re-ablement service.

“That service was piloted initially in two localities, which led to a 40% decrease in long-term care requirements.

“The partnership plans to roll out the service across the area, with increased allied health professions input, which I think will make a real impact on reducing bed days lost.”

Robert McCulloch-Graham, chief officer of health and socialcare at NHS Borders, also insisted that action is in hand to tackle the problem, saying: “The poor winter was particularly difficult for health care within the Borders and across the country.

“With a growing elderly population, there is an equivalent growth in the pressures caused by having more patients with complex needs.

“NHS Borders, Scottish Borders Council and the integrated joint board are working hand in hand to face these pressures and have introduced new models of health and social care to reduce this high level of demand.

“As a united partnership, we are working to reduce these delays and to get people home safely as soon as they are healthy enough to leave hospital.”