“This latest spike in the numbers of people waiting for hospital beds is a direct consequence of the government’s sticking plaster approach to the crisis in our health service. Constant firefighting is not the solution to fix our broken health system.”

Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall TD today attacked the government’s ‘sticking plaster’ approach to the crisis in our health service.

Deputy Shortall was commenting on the latest INMO trolley watch figures which show that 591 admitted patients are waiting for beds today, including 433 in emergency departments.

Deputy Shortall said:

“This latest spike in the numbers of people waiting for hospital beds is a direct consequence of the government’s sticking plaster approach to the crisis in our health service. Constant firefighting is not the solution to fix our broken health system”

Deputy Shortall proposed the following immediate steps to alleviate this national emergency:

1.Increased funding for home care packages and home help services to free up hospital beds. These also allow people to convalesce at home, which leads to better health outcomes. Existing spare capacity in both private nursing homes and HSE-run premises should also be used. At any one time there are about 500 to 600 delayed discharges in our acute hospitals. These are people who are ready to leave hospital but are awaiting step down services in the community or in nursing home

2.Better bed management at hospital group level so that patients can be transferred between hospitals within groups where there is spare capacity. The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland group covering north Dublin and the north east is successfully referring patients between its hospitals. This efficient use of beds should be adopted by other hospital groups.

3.Emergency funding to beef up out of hours services run by GPs and nurses in primary care centres so that patients in need of medical treatment have real alternatives to hospital emergency departments. There is considerable capacity in terms of public facilities, but only skeleton staff coverage is currently provided. That is discouraging people from attending their local primary care centres and pushing them towards acute hospitals.

Deputy Shortall added:

“The trolley crisis used to be a winter event but has now become a year-round problem. It makes life intolerable for patients waiting on trolleys and chairs and it puts incredible strain on nurses and doctors.  The government needs to get beyond quick fixes and properly commit to the thorough reforms set out in the Sláintecare plan which it has spectacularly failed to fund so far.”

ENDS

7th November 2018