Delayed transfers of care – ‘highest on record’

November 11, 2016

NHS England has published September's Delayed Transfers of Care Data for England, which is the highest figure since monthly data was first collected in August 2010.

There were 196,200 total delayed days in September 2016, of which 134,300 were in acute care. This is an increase from September 2015, where there were 147,700 total delayed days, of which 97,700 were in acute care. 34.4% of all delays in September were attributable to social care, 57.8% were attributable to the NHS, and the remaining 7.8% were attributable to both NHS and social care. The proportion of delays attributable to social care has increased from 30.8% in September 2015.

The main reason for social care delays in September 2016 was 'patients awaiting care package in their own home'. This accounted for 24,800 delayed days (36.7% of all social care delays), compared to 15,900 in September 2015. The number of delays attributable to this reason has been steadily increasing since February 2015.

The main reason for NHS delays in September 2016 was 'patients awaiting further non-acute NHS care'. This accounted for 32,700 delayed days (28.8% of all NHS delays). The number of delays attributable to this reason showed a general increase between July 2015 and March 2016, before levelling off for several months. In September, the number of delays attributable to this reason is showing signs of increasing again.

Delays can occur in either an acute or non-acute care setting. The proportion of delays occurring in acute care in September 2016 was 68.4% compared to 66.2% in September 2015. There were 6,800 patients delayed at midnight on the last Thursday of September 2016, of which 4,600 were acute patients. This compares to 5,200 patients, including 3,500 acute patients, which were delayed at midnight on the last Thursday of September 2015. The 6,800 patients delayed in September 2016 is the highest number since monthly data was first collected in August 2010.

Responding to the delayed transfers of care figures, Ray James, Immediate Past President of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services said, The fact that September’s delayed transfer of care figures, and those attributable to social care – which have soared by 48% over the last year – are the highest on record is extremely worrying.

'Despite councils doing everything they can to protect adult social care budgets and look after the needs of their communities, more patients are experiencing delays in leaving hospital.

'The fact that there were 24,800 delayed days in September because people were waiting for care packages in their own home – an increase of over half on one year earlier – is a matter of enormous concern and reflects the impending crisis facing adult social care.

'With care homes closing, councils projecting overspends of £441m, and the cost of the welcome National Living Wage, services are in significant and increasing jeopardy.

'We all want to be part of a system that makes sure people get the care and support they need in the right place and at the right time.

'For this to happen, it’s vital that the Government uses the Autumn Statement to urgently address the chronic underfunding of social care both now and in the coming years, otherwise there will be worrying consequences for older and disabled people, their families and carers, with more vulnerable people spending longer in hospital - rather than in their own home and communities – as the winter pressures take effect.'

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