Thursday 19 October 2017

Critically ill patients are dying because they are forced to stay in A&E - senior doctor

Dr Ryan said there are not enough intensive care beds Stock photo
Dr Ryan said there are not enough intensive care beds Stock photo
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Critically ill patients are dying because they are forced to stay in A&E departments when they should be in an intensive care unit, a senior doctor warned today.

They are relying on life support machines in emergency departments for hours, said Dr Tom Ryan, President of the Irish Hospital Consultants Association.

Dr Ryan, an anaesthetist in St James Hospital in Dublin, said there are not enough intensive care beds, leaving patients with inadequate care.

Public hospitals also need more robotic surgeons to reduce waiting lists and shorten patients hospital stay, he told the organisations annual conference in Limerick.

He said that robotic assisted surgery is mostly available in private hospitals and it leads to better patient outcomes.

However, there is just one of these new-age technologies in a public hospital in Limerick.

The technique involves a surgeon sitting at a computer and directing a robot. It is one of the areas where hospitals are lagging behind.

Dr Ryan said waiting lists for outpatient appointments is now five times the population of Limerick.

He said cuts to hospitals in the last decade have  left hospitals struggling with obsolete equipment.

Speaking about the proposal to move more patient care to the community, he warned about shunting people who need to see a specialist back to a GP.

Dr Ryan insisted there is too much wishful thinking in the Slaintecare report which wants a one tier system, with no divide between public and private wait.

He also warned against plans to phase out the treatment of private patients in public hospitals.

This would take €600m income from public hospitals but also hit the earning power of consultants.

The IHCA said more doctors will take flight if this is implemented.

Health Minister Simon Harris who addressed the conference reiterated that he will carry out an impact study before deciding if the removal of private patients from public hospitals should proceed.

Mr Harris said the days of health cuts are over.

He called on doctors to back his efforts to pass legislation to curb alcohol abuse by highlighting its harm

He said the best the drinks industry can come up with is accusing him of cancelling Christmas by banning the Guinness Christmas ad.

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