More than half of Great Western Hospital patients are still occupying beds after being deemed ready to leave.

New figures uncovered by the BBC's Shared Data Unit show the extent of the bed-blocking issue at Swindon’s largest healthcare facility.

On an average night at Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust between July 1, 2022, and June 30, 2023, 52.9 per cent of patients who had been identified as ready to be discharged that day were still occupying a bed at midnight.

However, this is nearly five per cent lower than the average figure for delayed discharges at hospital trusts across England, and better than 10 of the 13 hospitals around the southwest.

On the worst day of the 12 months analysed, 77.6 per cent of patients classed as “no longer meeting the criteria” to be in hospital were not discharged that day.

On Saturday, July 30, 2022, 99 people who could have left the hospital were still there at midnight.

Sundays were usually the worst day of the week, when 65.5 per cent of patients deemed fit to go home remained in their beds by the end of the day.

Royal College of Nursing director Patricia Marquis said: “At the heart of this is persistent understaffing across all care settings – but particularly in social care. 

"We would like to see a long-term plan for social care that matches the ambitions of the recent NHS Long-term Workforce Plan.

"Put simply, we need more nursing staff in the community and social care sector. 

 “Nursing staff will do everything they can to provide the right care for all their patients but without the investment to grow the workforce, they will continue to face massive pressures and it is their patients who will pay the price. “

Overall, GWH is ranked 11th in the southwest for the proportion of undischarged patients, as it had more than Plymouth (52.1 per cent) and Torbay and South Devon (48.3 per cent), but fewer than hospitals in Bath, Cornwall, Somerset, and wider Gloucestershire.

Salisbury Hospital topped the regional table, with an average of 73.3 per cent of dischargeable patients remaining in their beds by the end of the day.

Nationally, more than 13,000 people in England who are classed as fit to leave hospital are unable to do so.

Almost half of those were because patients were waiting for care packages to begin in a facility or at home, but many were also waiting for community hospital beds. 

A spokesperson for the Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “We work hard to safely discharge patients as soon as they are clinically well enough to leave hospital, so that beds can be used for new patients who need them.

"Families, friends and carers have an important role to play by being involved in discussions about ongoing care needs, arranging any help around the home, and being available to collect the patient at the earliest opportunity.

"Being able to reduce the number of patients in hospital who are clinically fit to leave is reliant on the whole health and social care system working together, so that arrangements for further care - whether in a patient’s home, a rehabilitation facility, a nursing or care home - can be made early on.

"Our Swindon Integrated Care Alliance Coordination Centre brings together all local health, social and voluntary care partners involved in a patient’s care and discharge planning, making it easier to assess patients’ needs and coordinate the right care.

"We also run our Home First scheme which is helping to reduce the length of time spent in hospital by patients who are clinically well enough to return home, but who might need extra support to help them do so.”