MORE than 60 per cent of patients deemed fit to leave hospital failed to be discharged on one day last week, figures reveal.

NHS England data shows 355 patients at hospitals run by the University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust were eligible for discharge on December 12 – the latest available data.

However, only 128 left hospital that day, meaning 227 - or 64 per cent - continued to occupy a bed.

Charity the Health Foundation said hospital discharge delays impact the entire health and social care system, while reducing capacity to tackle the huge backlog caused by the pandemic.

Patients should leave hospital on the same day they are assessed as fit for discharge, NHS guidance states.

The figures include 94 patients deemed fit to leave who had been in hospital for at least three weeks on December 12 – of whom only four were discharged that day.

The proportion of people remaining in hospital beds at University Hospitals Sussex Trust was lower than on the same day the previous week, when 67 per cent of patients failed to be discharged.

Across England, around 11,000 patients – 69 per cent of those ready for discharge on December 12 – continued to occupy a hospital bed.

The data covers adult patients staying in acute trusts with a major A&E department, including those being treated for Covid-19, but excludes maternity patients and children.

Patients eligible for discharge on any one day may have been assessed at an earlier date.

Tim Gardner, senior policy fellow at the Health Foundation, said issues stem from a lack of suitable capacity outside acute hospitals.

He said: "Problems with discharges often lead to problems admitting patients to wards from A&E departments, which in turn causes delays in ambulance handovers and can affect the ability of the ambulance service to respond to new emergencies.

"Patients who no longer require acute care may still need a combination of social care or non-acute NHS care in the community, but a lack of support following discharge means too many remain in hospital for longer than necessary.

"Reducing these longer stays would help to alleviate pressures on hospitals, creating capacity that could be better used to address the backlog of care built up during the pandemic."

He added staff shortages were also playing a part and a system overhaul was required to address the problems.

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