No relief from waiting lists until later in the year, warns minister
THERE will be no significant reduction to the numbers of patients on public waiting lists for surgery in the early part of the year the Health Minister has admitted.
The pressures on emergency departments, which saw 497 patients waiting for a hospital bed yesterday, means it will be later in the year before there is some improvement, added Leo Varadkar.
Asked about the risks to patient safety as a result of having hundreds of mostly elderly people in hospital waiting for a nursing home or home care package, with other patients facing delays on trolleys, he conceded that research in other countries had pinpointed the hazards.
"Internationally, research shows where treatment is delayed there is increased morbidity and mortality. That is understood in health services across the world. That is not to say I am aware of any cases where it happened here."
Meanwhile, Nursing Homes Ireland (NHI) said that despite the gravity of the situation in our acute hospitals, it had not been consulted by the emergency taskforce dedicated to reducing overcrowding.
"Given the critical role of the private and voluntary nursing home sector in alleviating problems of overcrowding in A&E departments and our critical role in providing a long-term solution to the issues arising, it is of key importance our sector is represented on the taskforce," said NHI CEO Tadgh Daly.
"To date, our request for membership of the taskforce has been refused, but we remain available for consultation."