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4 April 2017, 15:52
The number of patients forced to stay in hospital when they are well enough to leave has fallen, according to new figures.
Official statistics show patients spent 40,246 days in hospital due to delays in discharge, commonly known as bed blocking, in February.
The figure is down from 44,222 in the previous month, with the number of beds occupied by delayed discharges having fallen gradually since October.
Statisticians pointed out the fall in bed days in February could be largely attributed to it being a shorter month.
A census carried out in hospitals in February revealed there were 1,439 people affected by delayed discharge, down from 1,482 in January.
A total of 834 (58%) of these patients were delayed for more than three days for health and social care reasons, down from 844 the previous month.
Health Secretary Shona Robison said: "The integration of health and social care ensures patients are at the heart of care decisions and receive more treatment in the community, reducing demand for acute hospital usage by reducing avoidable admissions, lengths of stay and delayed discharge.
"Our key measures are reducing bed days while increasing the amount of delayed patients discharged within three days and we are seeing a continuation in this trend.
"In February, the number of bed days was down by almost 4,000 while delays over three days are at their lowest level since we changed our recording practices last July.
"We're making good progress and continue to work to eradicate this problem with a further £107 million transferring from the NHS in 2017/18 for integration purposes, taking the total NHS contribution to enhance social care to around £500 million per year. This includes £30 million specifically to address delayed discharges.''