People needing vital medical care in England missed out on nearly 80,000 days on hospital beds last month because they were being taken up by patients who were well enough to be moved on.
NHS statistics on delayed transfers - also known as bed-blocking - show the number of lost days for acute patients in October was the highest since records began more than three years ago.
There were 123,808 “total delayed days” across the month, of which 78,424 were acute, NHS England said.
Last October there were around 7,000 fewer delays in total and 7,500 fewer cases for acute patients.
January 2013 saw the previous highest number of bed-blocking cases for acute patients at 78,035, and there were almost 2,000 more delays in total that month.
This month’s figures show 67.3% of all delays were attributable to the NHS, while 26.3% were attributable to Social Care, and some 6.4% where both agencies were responsible.
NHS England said it recognised the worrying trend of increasing bed-blocking cases, and was investing an extra £150m to tackle the problem.
A spokesman said: “We are very aware of the pressures on hospitals when patients cannot be discharged when appropriate.
“Across the country we have urgent care working groups set up so the whole health and social care system is pulling together to tackle these important issues.
“The extra £150m that we have just released will help. We need to get every penny we can working hard for patients.”
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