Delays 'cost NHS £324m'

Delays to the discharge of NHS patients from hospitals have surged by more than 25 per cent in the past 19 months.

Figures show there were 71,449 delayed days in March 2012, up 29 per cent on August 2010, when the collection of monthly data began. One-third of patients were awaiting further NHS care, while a quarter awaited a place in residential care.

The Government is due to publish a White Paper on social care soon in response to the Dilnot report, which last year called for investment of more than £1bn. Labour said the cost of delayed discharges had reached £600,000 a day, and a total of £324m since August 2010.

Liz Kendall, Labour's shadow Minister for Care and Older People, said: "The shocking increase in delayed discharges provides yet more evidence that the care system is in crisis. More than £1.3bn has been cut from older people's social care since the Government came to power. But cutting vital services and support for older people is ending up costing us all more."