More than 300 patients are taking up hospital beds unnecessarily in Northern Ireland, according to new statistics.
"Bed-blocking" stops patients being admitted to hospital
BBC Northern Ireland's health correspondent, Dot Kirby, said figures from acute hospitals showed that 306 patients were being cared for who, according to doctors, were ready to be discharged.
She said about 17 people had been waiting in hospital for more than six months after a doctor had said that they could go home.
"These 'delayed discharges' block hospital beds and stop someone else being admitted. They cost the health service millions of pounds every year."
The correspondant added that sometimes people stayed in hospital longer than necessary because there was no money to pay for support within the community or because there was no place available in a nursing or residential home.
"More often than not, it is the patient's own choice not to take up whatever is being offered to move them on. For example, they want to go to a particular home but there isn't a bed there," she said.