An elderly patient’s discharge from a Black Country hospital has been delayed by a staggering 288 days - despite her being medically fit to go home.
The 82-year-old woman was admitted to Walsall Manor Hospital some time before August 3, 2015.
She said she was feeling ‘generally unwell’ and suffering from increased confusion, diarrhoea and vomiting.
Incredibly, despite being declared medically fit to go home for at least 288 days since then, the patient is still on a ward at the hospital.
Today hospital bosses said there were ‘complex reasons’ for the extent of the stay, including some ‘beyond their control’. A trust spokesman said the woman is the subject of a ‘complex legal case’ and remains in the hospital ‘in the interest of their safety and wellbeing’.
The 288 days are not thought to be wholly consecutive, with hospital bosses saying the patient went from being medically fit for discharge to becoming unwell again.
Senior councillors and a local MP blamed a ‘social care crisis’ for the extreme delay – which is thought to be one of the worst cases of ‘bed blocking’ in the country.
"Walsall North MP David Winnick said: “If things were as they should be then the patient would have been able to be discharged with all the appropriate care in place for them.
“Public services being starved of essential funding results in human misery.”
Walsall Conservative leader Mike Bird said: “This is an example of the social care crisis.
"Councils have a statutory duty on social care but the finances are such that it is actually a saving for them if people are in hospital.
"The problem the hospital has is they have to make sure when a person is discharged they are going somewhere that is safe.
"I am sure there is good reason why the patient was kept in, but it doesn’t sound good.”
Figures from Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust reveal more than 50 other patients stayed at least 28 days longer than they needed to in the last three years.
The issue has more than doubled this year with 33 patients taking more than 28 days to be discharged in 2016/17, compared to 15 in 2015/16 and 10 the year before.
The second longest wait behind the 82-year-old’s case saw an 89-year-old patient not discharged for 64 days after being admitted for confusion and a right sided facial droop.
Philip Thomas-Hands, chief operating officer at the trust, said: “We try our best to ensure timely and effective discharges when patients no longer require care or treatment in hospital so that those most sick can get to see our doctors and nurses as fast as possible.
“Delays can occur for complex reasons, some beyond our control.
“These include delays with assessments for social care or support following discharge, such as therapies.
“There can also be long delays while waiting for arrangements to be put in place to ensure that a patient’s home is safe for them to be discharged to, including delivery of equipment suitable to their needs, as well as waits for places in care homes if it has been decided that this is the best place for the patient to be cared for after hospital.
Walsall Council Labour leader Sean Coughlan said: “The vast majority of problems of bed blocking at the hospital are caused by themselves and not caused by the council or adult social care.
"It is disingenuous to suggest otherwise.
"We are all trying to help the Trust to make sure the beds are free for other patients. It is endemic with the social care crisis in the country.”
In February, a permanent discharge lounge was opened at the 606-bed hospital to ease waiting times, admissions and bed blocking.Subscribe to our Newsletter