Sunday 18 August 2019

Homecare limits add to numbers now stuck in hospital

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Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

The number of patients occupying hospital beds despite being fit for discharge has escalated to 630 as the HSE puts the squeeze on nursing home places and homecare supports.

There were 599 "delayed discharges" in June but this has now increased to 630, according to HSE figures.

It comes as hospitals report a slow-down in support for patients who could leave hospital if they had step-down facilities.

Nursing Homes Ireland, which represents privately owned nursing homes, said their members have beds lying idle.

They said there had been no transfer of patients from some Dublin hospitals recently.

The Irish Independent recently reported that an internal HSE memo introduced rationing of convalescent and nursing home places, setting a weekly quota that cannot be breached.

The knock-on effects of this instruction is now being felt by hospitals which are suffering high levels of overcrowding.

On July 9, there were 64 beds occupied by delayed discharges in St James's Hospital and 56 in Beaumont Hospital, both in Dublin.

The problem is countrywide as figures show 14 delayed discharges in Letterkenny Hospital, 12 in South Tipperary General Hospital and eight in University Hospital Waterford.

The HSE's own figures yesterday showed there are 293 patients on trolleys waiting for a bed, a 38pc increase over the same day last year.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation reported ongoing levels of overcrowding with 413 on trolleys in A&Es and other areas in hospitals.

The worst hit was University Hospital Limerick with 60 patients on trolleys. Elsewhere, there were 44 patients on trolleys in Cork University Hospital.

The lack of beds also affects patients on waiting lists for admission to hospital to have surgery.

Waiting lists for surgery are on the rise again when they should be falling at this time of the year.

Irish Independent

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