THE number of patients in Gwent blocking hospital beds during April increased slightly - to 108 - compared to the previous month.

A little over a quarter of what are officially known as delayed transfers of care (DToCs) in Wales for April were in Gwent, with one in every 17 hospital beds in the area occupied by a patient deemed fit enough for discharge.

Since the start of 2014, DToC numbers in Gwent (the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board area) have risen gradually, from 90 in January.

Only the Betsi Cadwalladr University Health Board area in north Wales, recorded more DToCs in April (111), and north Wales and Gwent have significantly more such patients than Wales' other five health board areas.

Bedblocking in Gwent hospitals rose by around 30 per cent during 2013 and that it keeps increasing will be a concern for the area's health bosses and for health minister Mark Drakeford, who has lauded a general decrease across Wales during the past year, though overal numbers have crept up in the last couple of months.

The measurement processes for DToCs were changed last year, and this is thought to be one reason for the sustained increase, with hitherto unrecorded cases coming into the count.

Care home places have also been closing, with more than 250 such places lost last year across Wales, and Gwent experienced higher than average proportion of these closures.

Sixty-seven of the DToC cases in Gwent in April were classed as being for healthcare or community care reasons, primarily waits for assessments of patients healthcare needs and care requirements on returning home, the latter also taking in delays to potential improvements in patients' homes to help the remain mobile.

Thirty-five were due to healthcare reasons, either waits for assessments or for arrangements to be made for healthcare to be provided once the patient leaves hospital.

Of the 24 DToCs due to community care reasons, all but one was because community care arrangements had not been sorted out for patients.

Care home issues also continued to be major factor, with 17 cases in April being down to patients and/or their families not having selected a care home.

Another 14 were due to patients waiting for a place to become available in the care home of their choice, though this was down from 22 in March.

But the number of longer waits for discharge are falling in Gwent. In April 2013, 19 patients had waited six or more weeks in hospital despite beign fit for discharge, but last month the figure was 10.