Almost 70% of nurses polled in England admit they frequently delay discharging older patients as there is no support for them outside hospital.
The Royal Voluntary Service polled 189 nurses in association with The King's Fund and found that almost all of the nurses surveyed reported that delayed discharge was a serious problem in the hospitals they work in. Eighty-two per cent said it had worsened in the last 12 months.
The nurses said that around 40 per cent of people aged over 75 are medically fit for discharge but they remain in hospital because there is no support in place.
One of the main barriers identified to discharge (cited by 93% of the repondents) was awaiting further non-acute NHS care, such as social care.
Crystal Oldman, the chief executive of the QNI, said: 'It is interesting that the nurses highlight that a lack of a social care package being in place prevents discharge but not a lack of support from the district nursing service.
'I am sure that this reflects the reality as district nurse teams tell us that they have continued to absorb more and more patients after discharge and are working longer hours at both ends of the day to accommodate their increased caseloads.
She went on to say that the QNI's 2020 survey into district nursing had shown that 'poor discharge planning in some places resulted in district nurses receiving patients onto their caseloads with insufficient notice to create a suitable environment of care in the home prior to discharge.'
Another barrier to discharge was reported to be that the families of older people requested they stay in hospital for longer. Over half of the nurses in the poll said they were frequently pressured by relatives to keep patients in hospital.
PHE figures confirmed that hospital admission rates and A&E attendances this winter were the highest they have been since 2010.