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Scottish physicians concerned by care home closures

The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh is deeply concerned over the warning from Scottish Care that at least one care home in Scotland is closing down each week, amid fears that this rate of closure may escalate.

The college says reduction in care home capacity will intensify the problem of delayed discharge from hospitals, which impacts greatly on patient flow across the entire acute hospital system, especially in winter when demand for NHS services is even higher. Delayed discharge levels remain historically high.

The College is urging the Scottish Government to consider all possible actions to ensure the care home sector is able to operate on a sustainable basis.

Professor Andrew Elder, (above) President of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, said: “Care homes not only provide long term care for older people but often act as a bridge from hospital to home.

A major cause of the flow difficulties experienced in acute care in recent years has been “exit block” – the difficulty in supporting patients back to their homes after hospitalisation. Capacity in care homes is already stretched and any further reduction  will not only have an impact on the NHS Scotland’s ability to provide safe and effective care in its acute wards, but will impact on the dignity and welfare of those patients who are delayed and have to wait inappropriately for weeks or months in hospital wards.

“Capacity issues are year round in the Scottish NHS at this time – the winter months only see the situation worsen, hence our warning now, that care home capacity must be protected in the coming months.” 


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