Figures released by Public Health Scotland last week show delayed discharge continues to be a concern across Ayrshire and Arran.

The numbers have increased by 14.7 per cent in NHS Ayrshire and Arran between March 2022 and March 2023.

Delayed discharge is when a patient is medically cleared to go home but cannot leave hospital, often because a social care package is not in place or there is a lack of places in care homes or sheltered housing.

Across the south of Scotland region, thousands of hours of assessed care is not being provided in homes because of a lack of carers.

An increasing number of care home closures are also reducing the opportunities for older people to leave hospital if they require a care home place.

Comparing the figures between 2022 and 2023, NHS Borders showed a 29.5 per cent increase and NHS Dumfries and Galloway reported a 23.6 per cent increase.

Colin Smyth, a Labour MSP for the South Scotland region, said: “These figures continue to show the scale of how many people are affected by delayed discharge across our area.

“When comparing with last year, every month we’re seeing rises in Ayrshire and Arran, Dumfries and Galloway and the Borders, and this is a real concern.

“For many years now I have been calling for a strategy from the Scottish Government to eradicate delayed discharge but nothing has changed.

In 2015, the SNP vowed to put an end to delayed discharge but, as these figures show, we are so far away from achieving that.

“It is time for delayed discharge figures to start improving and I am demanding that the Scottish Government take serious action.

“The Government’s ‘solution’ is apparently to pay health boards to discharge patients, not back home where they want to be, but into care homes where they do not want to be.

"And, in rural areas, those care homes are often miles from their family.

“That will not work: while many boards are already buying up beds in care homes, there are not enough because those homes also cannot recruit care staff.

“We need long term investment, including tackling the woeful low level of sheltered housing locally, but the Government could start by backing Labour’s plans to pay care workers a fair wage of £12 an hour, rising to £15 which would help with the recruitment crisis.”