The Department of Health has rejected criticism of the measure it uses to track delayed transfers of care between NHS providers and social care.

In July the House of Common health committee made damning criticism of the delayed transfers measure used by the DH and called for its urgent review.

The report said: “The national data available on delayed discharges contradicts the evidence of clinicians and managers across the acute sector. The committee believes the data is incredible and we recommend ministers investigate in order to understand whether the available figures genuinely reflect the situation on the ground.”

In its response, published on 11 October the DH rejected the criticisms, saying: “This is an area where statistics alone do not provide the full picture in terms of the effort and resources committed by hospitals in discharging their patients.”

It concluded: “The DH and NHS England are confident of the credibility of these official statistics.”

There were 1.3 million delayed days recorded under the measure in 2012-13, a 0.7 per cent increase on 2011-12.

The government’s response said the balance of who was responsible for the delays had changed significantly, with the NHS’ responsibility for delays rising from 61 per cent in June 2011 to 68 per cent in June 2013, while the proportion attributed to social care fell by the same amount.