Are there one million people in hospital with nowhere else to go?

Published: 5th May 2017

In brief


In January there were one million people in hospital who couldn’t leave because they had nowhere to go.


We’ve asked for the source of this claim, but it seems to be incorrect. In January there were 7,100 people in hospital at the end of the month who were medically fit to leave but hadn’t been discharged. Across the whole month there were 197,000 delayed days when patients fit to leave weren’t discharged.

“In January there were a million people who were lying on hospital beds who couldn’t leave because they had nowhere else to go.”

Paul Nuttall MEP, 4 May 2017

This seems to be incorrect, but we’ve asked UKIP to confirm Mr Nuttall’s source.

There were just over 7,100 people waiting to be discharged from hospitals in England when they were medically fit to leave on the last Thursday of January this year, according to official figures.

Across the whole month there were 197,000 “delayed days” or full days when a patient was still in hospital despite being fit to be discharged.

These delays can be for a wide variety of reasons. Patients can be waiting for an assessment or for some other kind of NHS treatment, they might be waiting for a place in a nursing home to become available or for a community care package to be set up. It may even be the choice of the patient or their family that they remain in hospital.

Across the whole of 2016 there were over 2 million delayed days and 75,000 patients waiting to be discharged at the end of each month. The BBC reported recently that one million of these delayed days between April 2016 and January 2017 were down to the NHS, which may be what Mr Nuttall was referring to.

This factcheck is part of a roundup of BBC Question Time. Read the roundup.


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