Link between delayed discharge and increased mortality rates

October 3, 2017

New research published in the BMJ Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health looks at the link between delayed discharge and increased mortality rates.

With 2015 seeing the largest spike in mortality rates in almost 50 years, the researchers set out to examine any link with delayed discharge. Using data on mortality and death counts from the Office for National Statistics and comparing it to NHS data on transfers of care in England, they concluded that there was a link between delayed discharge and increased mortality rates.

The data has shown that the increase in delayed discharge in 2015, was associated with increases in mortality. The researchers found that it accounted for up to a fifth of mortality increases. They conclude that austerity could be the reason for this, saying, 'Our study provides evidence that a lower quality of performance of the NHS and adult social care as a result of austerity may be having an adverse impact on population health.'

Responding to the report, Glen Garrod, Vice President of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), said, 'This useful report shines a light on the important debate about what is happening to older and disabled people who need health and social care support at a time of austerity and when councils' adult social care budgets have been reduced significantly.

'Although the findings appear to confirm views expressed elsewhere, it is important to note that other factors, aside from delayed discharge, may also have a bearing on the rise in mortality reported.

'ADASS supports the priority attached to timely discharges from both acute and non-acute healthcare settings, and in ensuring that people are not inappropriately admitted to acute care when alternative solutions could generate better outcomes for them.

'The latest delayed discharge figures show that despite significant challenges related to increased demands and costs, the dedicated hard work of social workers and care staff together with the welcome additional emergency £1 billion for social care this year, have all contributed to a reduction in the numbers of people waiting in hospital for care at home.

'Our budget survey further shows that councils across the country are continuing to protect adult care – the proportion of council spending on adult social care is set to increase by 1.3% this year, despite cuts in overall budgets – and most delayed discharges are due to people requiring further NHS services, rather than waiting for council social care.

'However, adult social care remains under financial pressure and unless a long-term solution to funding adult social care is established both the NHS and older and disabled people will continue to suffer.'

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