€600k a day spent on patients who are well enough to leave hospital
MORE THAN €600,000 is being spent every day on patients who do not need to be in hospital.
Figures released to the Irish Independent showed 753 patients, known as delayed discharges, as occupying hospital beds around the country last week who had already been deemed well enough to be released from hospital.
The figures came to light after it emerged a 39-year-old woman, who is paralysed from the waist down, has spent the past two years in Dublin's Beaumont Hospital despite doctors telling her she is well enough to be discharged.
Victoria Gonzalez is waiting for appropriate wheelchair-accessible accommodation to be made available.
The national average cost to keep a patient in a hospital bed for one night, based on 2011 figures is €820, according to the HSE.
That means over €617,000 is being spent every day on "bed blockers" or people who no longer require hospital treatment but cannot be discharged "for various reasons".
Mother-of-two Ms Gonzalez told the Irish Independent she had "no idea" why it was taking so long to locate suitable accommodation. "If they really applied themselves I'm sure it could be sorted out relatively quickly," she said.
Ms Gonzalez, who is half-Spanish, was left paralysed after an accident at her home in north Co Dublin in September 2011.
She has also been attending the National Rehabilitation Hospital to equip herself with the skills required to live independently in a customised home.
Ms Gonzalez is separated and as an only child has no immediate family she can live with. She said her old home could not be modified and hopes a new one will mean her sons can live with her.
There are 98 other patients who are deemed "delayed discharges" in Beaumont Hospital but Ms Gonzalez said she hasn't come across anyone else who has been waiting as long.
She explained her situation to Taoiseach Enda Kenny after a chance meeting last year but now says she "might as well have not contacted him".
"I thought to myself 'who is higher than the Taoiseach?' Well, he has done nothing for me and now I've reached the end of the line."
Since her story emerged, Fingal County Council has identified a potential residence for Ms Gonzalez and she is hoping to view it soon.
A HSE spokesperson said: "Each patient is assessed on a case by case basis. There are varying reasons which may prevent a patient's discharge from hospital and which are based on the needs identified in their individual care plan."