Patients left stranded in hospital at Christmas - when they could have gone home

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Elderly and vulnerable patients spent the Christmas holidays stuck in hospital despite being well enough to be discharged, NHS figures suggest.

There were 105 delayed transfers of care, when patients are still in hospital despite being fit to leave, at Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust between December 19 and New Year’s day.

The delays could have cost Mid Yorkshire, which runs Pinderfields, Pontefract and Dewsbury hospitals, around £27,000, based on the £260-a-day cost of keeping people in hospital.

Wakefield MP Mary Creagh said the figures, which show the number of beds unavailable because patients could not be transferred elsewhere, raised fears of a lack of social care which meant patients could not be allowed home.

She said: “It is distressing that this Christmas over 100 elderly people were trapped in hospital when they were well enough to be at home with their families.”

Mid Yorkshire said it performed well for making sure patients were discharged in a timely manner as 5,000 people were admitted to hospital during the Christmas period.

They said the figures referred to the number of beds unavailable during the holiday period rather than to the number of individuals awaiting discharge as some patients were waiting more than one day.

Lynne Hall-Bentley, Mid Yorkshire’s associate director operations, said: “The reasons behind delays are complex. As with all trusts across the country, the winter months are very busy and therefore there is an increase in the number of people who may need on-going nursing or residential care after a stay in hospital.”

Mrs Hall-Bentley said around 20 per cent of patients had complex needs requiring extra support after they left hospital. She added: “All these patients are referred to the dedicated discharge support team who support the ward sisters and matrons to manage the patients’ discharge safely.”