The increased prevalence of patients being delayed in discharge from hospital in 2015 was associated with increases in mortality, accounting for up to a fifth of mortality increases. The study by Mark Green, Danny Dorling, Jon Minton and Kate Pickett of the Universities of Liverpool, Glasgow, Oxford and York, provides evidence that a lower quality of performance of the NHS and adult social care (as a result of austerity) may be having an adverse impact on population health.

2015 saw the largest annual increase in mortality rates across the UK for almost 50 years, and mortality rates have remained high since. During the same period there have been funding crises and poorer quality of care within the NHS and adult social care.

We demonstrate a positive association between the number of patients delayed in being discharged, and the cumulative amount of time patients were delayed, to the monthly number of deaths and mortality rate. Our results present evidence that a lower quality of performance between the NHS and adult social care may explain part of the increases in mortality rates experienced in England from at least 2015 and onwards.

Reactions: The Guardian: “NHS England declined to comment. A Department of Health spokesman said: “Whilst the results of this research are limited, we are clear that no one should have to stay in a hospital bed longer than necessary.’

The Times: ‘About a fifth of the increased deaths in England and Wales between July 2014 and June 2015 may have been caused by delayed discharge from hospitals’.

The Telegraph: ‘researchers said other explanations – such as flu, the ageing population and random fluctuations could not fully explain the trends. They said the delayed discharges – which are often caused by an inability to arrange adequate social care in the community for people leaving hospital – could be preventing other, sick people from being admitted to hospital for the care they need. “While mortality rates fluctuate year on year, this was the largest rise for nearly 50 years and the higher rate of mortality has been maintained throughout 2016 and into 2017,” the authors wrote in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.’

The Yorkshire Post: reacted by explaining that ‘Meanwhile, those stuck in hospital may experience more stress and anxiety, and could receive less-good care as time goes on.’ Earlier the BBC had explained that some patients were now: ‘dying alone due to lack of NHS staff’ while Sky News reported that Jeremy Hunt the ‘Health Secretary says he disagrees with a Tory minister’s suggestion that the NHS is “close to collapse” amid rising costs of care.’

And the Daily Mail: reported that: ‘The scale of bed-blocking in the NHS is the worst it has ever been, with nearly 4,500 people trapped in hospital at any given time. The problem has more than doubled in the past seven years – from 55,332 beds that were blocked for a whole day in August 2010 to 118,131 in July 2017.’

Links to the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health to read the full paper are here

The scandal of unequal and poor health outcomes and service provision is deepening as the UK government continues to choose to fund its public services at extremely low levels (click on image below, or for more information on health spending click here):

Unequal health_jpg


Public Spending in proportion to GDP in twelve rich countries

Public Spending in proportion to GDP in twelve rich countries