Monday 20 November 2017

6pc drop in patients on trolleys since last year

Waiting list figures for public patients remain at a critical level
Waiting list figures for public patients remain at a critical level

Claire Murphy and Eilish O'Regan

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has reported a 6pc reduction in the number of people waiting on trolleys within the year.

The latest 'Trolley Watch' figures for August found a significant 41pc drop in Dublin hospitals but a 14pc increase in hospitals outside Dublin during the month of August compared to August 2015.

During the month of August the Emergency Departments and hospitals experiencing the greatest level of overcrowding were University Hospital Limerick, Cork University Hospital, South Tipperary General Hospital, University Hospital Galway and Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda.

The figures were released at a time when the number of delayed discharges (patients who have completed their acute care) had increased to 640 at the end of last week.

The latest meeting of the Emergency Department Taskforce takes place this afternoon.

It will be attended by Health Minister Simon Harris, who will finalise his €40m winter initiative to reduce trolley gridlock in the country's emergency departments in the coming months,

General Secretary Liam Doran said the reduction in Dublin hospitals is welcome and must be maintained into the future.

"However, the significant deterioration, in a number of hospitals outside of Dublin is totally unacceptable and should be viewed as critical by the Department of Health/HSE," he said.

"These figures confirm, yet again, that further actions, in addition to all steps taken to date, are required in order to alleviate trolley overcrowding as we now enter the autumn/winter period.

Mr Doran said that the INMO would be seeking special measures for a number of hospitals to assist in dealing with the unsafe clinical environment which exists at this time.

Waiting lists

Meanwhile, Simon Harris yesterday pledged that thousands of patients who have waited longest on public hospital lists for surgery and diagnostic procedures will be treated privately over the next year.

Mr Harris said he did not have any ideological hang-ups about using public funds to buy treatment for public patients in private hospitals.

Waiting list figures for public patients remain at a critical level and figures to be published this week will show more than 500,000 are in a queue for surgery, an outpatient appointment or a diagnostic endoscopy procedure in hospitals across the country.

Mr Harris said that patients didn't care where they were treated as long as they were able to get off the list.

Apart from using private hospitals for public patients who need endoscopy procedures this year, he also intends to "look at a specific initiatives in relation to hip and knee replacements."

He was speaking at the announcement of a €34.2m investment in new diagnostic equipment and facilities in the Beacon Hospital in Sandyford in Dublin.

Prof Colm O Morain, consultant gastroenterologist at Beacon Hospital, said modern equipment gave doctors a better chance of picking up bowel cancer, which affects 950 women and 1,330 men annually.

Irish Independent

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