Fears loss of 27 step-down beds will worsen trolley crisis
The number of elderly patients who cannot leave hospital is set to escalate from next month as 27 public nursing home and step-down beds are shut down.
These beds provide a safety valve to the trolley crisis.
The closures at St Mary's Hospital in Dublin's Phoenix Park will force more older people to occupy a hospital bed because there is nowhere suitable for them to go.
The closures were highlighted by Jack Chambers, Fianna Fáil TD in Dublin West, who said it would exacerbate HSE homecare cost-cutting, which would cause hardship.
New homecare packages and home help hours are effectively "frozen" for months.
"This move again contradicts the whole Sláintecare plan, which is to support people in the community," he said.
"It will cause further overcrowding in our A&Es.
"Health Minister Simon Harris should be increasing investment in these support facilities."
Patients admitted for blood transfusions, treatments for infections, dementia assessments, wounds, malnutrition and rehabilitation also need the beds, he pointed out.
A spokeswoman for the HSE confirmed the shutdown from July.
She said that following a recent health and safety assessment, a number of issues had arisen in relation to flooring and electrical works in a ward in St Mary's Hospital.
"In order to comply with legislative requirements and in the best interests of our patients, management have made the decision to close the ward on a phased basis, with effect from July," she said.
"Engagement with patients, their families, staff, union representatives and any other stakeholders is ongoing to ensure minimal impact for all concerned is achieved during the closure of the ward."