I am pleased to take part in today’s debate and I thank the Labour Party for bringing this important matter to the chamber. Social care is one of the most important issues that our country faces and it is of great concern to many older and vulnerable people and their families and friends across the country. I thank and pay tribute to the organisations that have provided useful briefings for today, including the SCVO, Enable and Age Scotland.
The Scottish National Party Government and the First Minister have said repeatedly that they will get on top of the delayed discharge crisis in Scotland, which is one of the clearest indications of the pressure on social care networks. Indeed, the former Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport, Shona Robison, promised three years ago that the Government would “eradicate” the problem, but the reality, as shown by the most recent Information Services Division figures, is that the situation is deteriorating, and the Government shows no signs of knowing how to turn the problem round.
The most recent figures show that in September, 1,529 people were forced to stay in hospital despite being fit to leave, mostly because of an inability to arrange appropriate at-home care packages, but also because of a lack of suitable care home places. That figure has got worse over the past two years. Perhaps most concerning was the recent case highlighted in
The Sunday Times of delayed discharges of between four and seven years at some health boards, with a patient deemed fit for discharge by a Scottish health board in 2011 still under NHS care, according to the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland.
I recently met representatives of MND Scotland, who highlighted to me a number of cases across Scotland in which, due to failures in community social care, people ended up admitted to hospital, where their condition significantly deteriorated. As my amendment points out, today’s debate highlights the real need for joint working with housing associations, to ensure that delays in making necessary home adaptations do not further contribute to delays in getting people out of hospital.
The delayed discharge crisis is particularly acute in my own Lothian region, with delayed discharge rates higher here than in any other part of Scotland and accounting for almost a quarter of all of Scotland’s delayed discharges. The City of Edinburgh Council has more delayed discharges than any other council in Scotland. I commend newspapers such as the
, whose on-going care in crisis campaign is helping to keep up the pressure on the city’s health and social care partnership.
Not a week goes by when I do not receive correspondence from constituents and families who come to ask for help when they find themselves in situations that cannot be resolved because of the clear breakdown in our social care system here in the capital. The inability of local health and social care partnerships to provide sustainable care packages is in large part due to the recruitment crisis in the social care sector. Edinburgh’s health and social care partnership has said that local contracted providers have reported high staff turnover rates, which are in the region of 30 to 50 per cent.