POLITICS: 142,472 delayed discharges are causing severe backlogs in our public hospitals – says Cork TD

27 December 2017
By Mary Bermingham

Better resourcing of home help, home care packages and nursing homes could alleviate ED trolley crisis – says Cork TD

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Health, Billy Kelleher TD (Cork North Central) has said that the Government could make progress towards ending the trolley crisis in our emergency departments if it “got its act together” with regard to delayed discharges from public hospitals.

Cork TD Billy Kelleher

Deputy Kelleher was commenting after receiving information from the HSE that shows that for the first nine months of 2017, there were 142,472 delayed discharges across all public hospitals in the State.

Delayed discharges are discharges that did not take place even though a patient was well enough to be discharged from the hospital by their doctor. In many cases, this is as a result of a lack of home help hours, home care packages or community-based respite support in nursing homes or rehabilitative centres.

“On average, there are 15,830 delayed discharges every month, or 58 per day. When we compare this figure with average trolley figures of about 350 per day, we can see that progress is definitely possible if the will and resourcing is out in place.

“The hospital system has a starting point, an end point, and many stages in between. If any one of these stages sees a blockage, the rest of the system will be get backed up.

“Delayed discharges because of a lack of post-hospital care are unforgivable. If the difference between a person being discharged or not is a couple of home help hours every day for a week or two, then the system needs to be robust and flexible enough to respond.

“There needs to be better joined up thinking and working between those managing hospitals and those managing post-hospital care in the community. There is little point requesting post-hospital support a day before a person is due to be discharged – it needs to take place far in advance to ensure that there is delay.

“The siloing of health services needs to come to an end. Minister Harris needs to realise that his job as Minister for Health is to cut out the red tape, and make the decisions and the changes that makes our public health system more effective. Here is a perfect opportunity to make a real and tangible difference to patients entering and exiting our hospitals,” concluded Kelleher.

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