Hospital bed blocking

AN AVERAGE of six people at any one time are being kept in hospital in Shetland despite being clinically ready to be discharged.

The majority of people kept longer than needed in the Gilbert Bain are elderly people waiting for a bed at residential care homes.

The council’s social services committee heard at a meeting in Lerwick Town Hall on Wednesday morning that there needs to be a “change in culture” in the isles with regards to placing people once they leave hospital.


Community health and social care director Simon Boker-Ingram told councillors that as of Tuesday, three patients were delayed in discharging from hospital.

He added that “time and demographics are against us”, with an ageing population likely to exacerbate the problem.

Shetland Central councillor Mark Burgess suggested that figures show that Orkney’s rate of hospital “bed days” used by discharges was less than Shetland’s.

Boker-Ingram responded by saying he “went to Orkney at the beginning of the calendar year”, but didn’t see much discrepancy in how the respective health services operated.


The report shown to councillors revealed that from 1 January 2014 to 30 June 2014, 1529 bed days were lost in Shetland – meaning that there was an average of eight patients at any one time that did not need to be in hospital.

However, figures show that the average between 7 April and 19 May this year was six patients.

Meanwhile, social services committee vice-chair Gary Cleaver praised the housing support team in Shetland after they received a glowing report from the Care Inspectorate.


The independent body undertook an unannounced inspection in November last year, with their report giving “very good” grades in quality of care and support, quality of staffing and quality of management and leadership.

The council’s executive manager of housing Anita Jamieson said their findings were “testament to the staff” as they were going through a “redesign” stage at the time.

After the meeting, Cleaver said: “As a council, we aren’t that brilliant at blowing our own trumpets. This was a really good report in a challenging time. For local government, everything’s challenging at the moment.

“To do well on an external review is always pleasing and rewarding – so well done them.”