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Delayed NHS hospital discharges reaches record high

Delays in discharging patients ready to leave NHS hospitals rose to record levels last month official figures show.

Delayed NHS hospital discharges reaches record highPatients spent a total of 143,000 days in hospital when they should have been sent home.

In a further sign of growing pressure on the system, the number of emergency admissions also reached record levels and indicate a system under stress which is unable to free up beds because of problems arranging suitable support from care workers or district nurses.

The exact total number of “days delayed” rose to 143,118, the figure for October 2013 was 123,852.

Experts say the true situation is even worse because a lot of delays are not formally counted.

Pressures are likely to grow as winter approaches and last week there were nearly 110 emergency admissions – another record high.

Hospital bed occupancy rates are also high due to more patients being admitted and problems in discharging those who are ready to leave.

The Department of Health said there were plans in place to manage the extra demand  and that planning for winter had been underway since June.

“We’ve given the NHS an extra £700 million to buy thousands more doctors, nurses and beds this winter. NHS England has ensured there are plans in every area to manage the extra demand.”

There was a slight improvement last week in the number of patients seen and treated in A&E within four hours compared with the previous seven days.

But the latest figure, 93.9%, still falls short of the official target of 95%.

Richard Murray, the director of policy at the health research group The King’s Fund said this was a particular problem for mental health services. He expressed concerns about how the NHS would cope in the coming months.

“You do wonder how much further the situation will have to go before we have a classic winter crisis,” he said.

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