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Unacceptable levels of delayed discharge for Scotland’s learning disability patients

Publication date: 28 Jun, 2018

Four new reports published today by the Mental Welfare Commission of visits to units for people with learning disabilities found unacceptable levels of delayed discharge, with some patients waiting years to leave hospital.

The Commission found that overall care and treatment was good, and patients generally had positive relationships with staff, but half of the 54 patients across the four wards no longer needed hospital treatment, and their discharge was delayed.

The reports are for:

Alison Thomson, Executive Director (Nursing), Mental Welfare Commission, said:

"Two years ago we published a national report on people with learning disabilities in hospital. At that time, we found that a third of patients in learning disability units had been identified as ready to leave hospital, but were awaiting a suitable move.

"We called the situation unacceptable, and made specific recommendations to address this issue, so it is particularly disappointing to find continued high levels of delayed discharge in the four units we visited this year.

"A hospital is not a home, and is not a suitable place for long term living for people who do not need that level of care and treatment. Delayed discharge also prevents hospital admission for other people in the community who have been assessed as needing a period of inpatient care and treatment."

The Commission is urging integrated joint boards to develop clear plans to end delayed discharges for this group of patients as a matter of urgency.

Notes to Editors

1.There are 18 hospital units for people with learning disability in Scotland, excluding forensic units, with around 200 beds in total (from the Commission's 2016 report).

2.The Mental Welfare Commission visits over 100 wards and units a year for people with mental ill health, learning disability and dementia. On the visits, the Commission talks to staff, patients and family members/carers, checking that patients are receiving appropriate care and treatment in a suitable environment.

A report is published after each visit, with recommendations for change where the Commission believes this is necessary.

See all published reports here: Local visit reports by health board

Mary Mowat

0131 313 8777