§ Mr. Robert McCartney
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many hospital patients(a) in Northern Ireland and (b) in the Ulster, North Down and Ards Trust, assessed as ready for institutional care in the community, are currently bed blocking; and if she will make a statement on the factors underlying the bed blocking. 
§ Mr. Worthington
This information is not collected on a routine basis. However, recent surveys carried out be the four health and social services boards indicated that there were some 127 hospital patients who had been assessed as needing either residential or nursing home care and who had been waiting more than two weeks while arrangements were being made for that care. Of these patients 29 were in the Ulster North Down and Ards Trust. A survey of discharge delays carried out by the Eastern Health and Social Services Board found that there were a number of reasons for such delays. While pressure on community care budgets was a contributory cause in more than half the cases,patient or relative disagreement with the assessment outcome",andpatient choice of accommodation not being availablewere causes in nearly 20 per cent. of cases. The remaining were due to other reasons such as "housing preparation", "changes in medical condition" and "unavailability of specialist equipment."