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New figures from the Department of Health show there has been a big increase in delayed discharges from hospitals, with the number of delayed days up more than 10% in the last month alone, and a staggering 29% over the last 19 months.

The figures, released Friday, show there were 71,450 delayed days in March 2012 – up from 64,590 in February 2012 and 55,330 in August 2010 (the month from which these figures have been collected).The cost of these delays to the taxpayer has now reached over £18.5 million a month – that’s more than £600,000 every single day. The total bill for delayed discharges since August 2010 has now reached £324 million.

Problems with getting services and support in the community or at home are a major cause of the increase in these delays.

Liz Kendall MP, 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 £1.3 billion 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.

“Every day, thousands of older people are stuck in hospital when they could be getting care in the community or at home. This isn't what they or their families want, and it's not what hard pressed taxpayers need either, because hospital care is far more expensive.

"The Government is out of touch with what's really happening on the ground, and in denial about the true scale of the crisis. We need urgent action to reform care for older and disabled people, including how we fund the system in a way that's fair and sustainable for the future."

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