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Social care crisis must be addressed to encourage timely discharge and alleviate system pressures

20 January 2022

Commenting on the latest Urgent and Emergency Care Daily Situation Report 2021-22 that shows nearly one third of patients who were in hospital for 21 days or more were fit for discharge, Dr Katherine Henderson, President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, said:

“These data reflect the deepening social care crisis. We currently have the highest number of long stay patients (21 days or more) since winter 2017-18. Last week, on average, 6,500 beds were occupied by patients who are fit for discharge, and only one in 10 of these patients were able to be discharged daily (on average). All these patients will want to return home and to their communities, but they are unable to because there isn’t the support to aid them upon their discharge.

“There must be a system-wide effort and focus on discharging patients, but such effort will only translate to meaningful action if the government address and take urgent steps to resource social care. Freeing up these beds would help alleviate system pressures, particularly those on Emergency Departments, and promote vital flow throughout the hospital.”

Notes to editor

The latest Urgent and Emergency Care Daily Situation Report 2021-22 for the week 10 – 16 January 2022 show:

  • As a daily average 17,541 patients stayed in hospital for 21 days or more
  • As a daily average 6,495 of these long-stay patients were fit for discharge, this is equal to nearly one in three
  • On average only 656 patients were discharged daily, equal to just one in 10
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