Figures released by Public Health Scotland on Tuesday show another increase in delayed discharge in the Borders.

When comparing October 2022 with October 2023, the figures in the Borders rose by 23 per cent and are a huge 235 per cent higher than pre-pandemic (October 2019).

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.

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

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth said: “Once again, this month’s figures show an increase in numbers year on year – painting a bleak picture for our region.

“Before the pandemic, the Scottish Government had vowed to eradicate delayed discharge but instead of improvements, we are still seeing high numbers every month, piling pressure on our hospitals and threatening patients’ recovery.

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“Our social care system is crying out for help - our amazing local NHS is working as hard as they can to get people out of hospital, but they can’t work miracles.

“Patients and workers across our health and social care system are being failed and we urgently need to support social care services.

“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.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We are working closely with health boards and health and social care partnerships to create the necessary capacity to deal with emerging pressures over winter, and to ensure patients are assessed and discharged with the appropriate care package as quickly as possible.

“We are also continuing to work with local partners and Cosla to address the variability of delayed discharge across local authority areas.

“In addition to the £3.6 million provided this year to support growth of Hospital at Home services for older people, we have also invested additional funds, of up to £12 million, as part of our winter plan to increase capacity.”