New figures released by NHS England have revealed a 23% rise in delays in discharging patients from hospital.
The data reveal that people occupying beds who no longer needed care took up a total of 171,298 days in June compared with 139,538 days in June 2015, the BBC reports.
An NHS England spokesman said: “It’s important patients who are well enough to leave hospital can do so at the earliest opportunity, and in some parts of the country the system is working well.
“These figures underline the importance of joined-up care within the NHS and the dependence of hospitals on well-functioning social care services – particularly for older people living at home.”
Commenting on the latest data Stephen Dalton, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents most NHS Trusts, urged the government to “invest more in out-of-hospital care”.
More than half (59%) of delays were due to the NHS, while the social care sector was responsible for 32%. Both were responsible for 7.9%, the report said.
Labour leadership challenger Owen Smith said the latest figures were a damning indictment of the government’s handling of the NHS.
Shadow Home Secretary Andy Burnham, who is running for Manchester mayor, has suggested shifting responsibility and budgets for social care to NHS Trusts will help relieve bed blocking (see Alarm bells greet Andy Burnham mayor candidacy).
Private sector operators say they can alleviate bed blocking much more cheaply than publicly funded hospitals, a view backed by independent think-tank Respublica in a report published last year.