NHS Fife delayed discharge probe under way

image captionNicola Sturgeon said the issue of bed blocking had improved significantly

NHS Fife is investigating the cases of 93 people who died while waiting to be discharged from hospital, Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon has said.

Her comments came after the figures for 2010 were revealed in a Labour freedom of information request.

Ms Sturgeon said Fife's bed blocking problem was "unacceptably high" towards the end of last year.

She told MSPs action was being taken and problems with the delays were now being tackled.

Scottish Labour's health spokeswoman Jackie Baillie raised concern the problems in Fife could be "the tip of the iceberg".

In a statement to parliament, Ms Sturgeon said it could not be presumed a patient had any less chance of dying if they had been at home, rather than in hospital.

But the minister, said: "In Fife, where an FOI request revealed that 93 patients had died after being judged fit for discharge in 2010, the medical director there is already reviewing the circumstances of all the cases."

'Deeply concerning'

She added: "The level of delayed discharges in Fife towards the end of last year was unacceptably high."

Ms Sturgeon said meetings had taken place between health and council officials in Fife and expected issues to be back on track by the end of February.

Ms Baillie said the situation in Fife was "deeply concerning".

"The health secretary admitted in her statement that the number of delayed discharges in Fife was unacceptably high, but she was not able to tell us how many patients in other parts of Scotland had died while they were awaiting hospital release," the Labour MSP said.

"We believe that Fife could be the tip of the iceberg and this information should be published as a matter of urgency."

Ms Sturgeon said the problem of delayed discharges was "significantly better" than under the last government, although there was "still work to do".

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