Monday 16 December 2019

Wednesdays are busiest at our A&Es, says Varadkar

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar
Minister for Health Leo Varadkar
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

WEDNESDAY is among the worst days of the week for hospital emergency department overcrowding and Saturday is the best, according to Health Minister Leo Varadkar.

"It's worse in the morning, and better in the evening, best on Saturdays and then gets worse again over the weekend. The problem is at its least over Christmas, and in the middle of the summer, and at its worst just before Christmas, early in the New Year and in March," he revealed.

The trends, which are part of feedback from monitoring of patterns by the Special Delivery Unit, come as the first cases of flu have been diagnosed this winter, signalling bad news for emergency departments.

He said: "There is huge variation in the trolley problem across hospitals. Some hospitals rarely have people on trolleys, and others have people on trolleys every day. Although the availability of beds and delayed discharges is the main reason, it's not the only reason and it's clear that some hospitals are better at managing bed capacity and trolleys than others." He insisted he was not blaming staff or managers but "what is required is really good and focused management and frontline staff co-operating with managers. This has already been achieved in many hospitals, and surely can be achieved in many more".

Nurses at Beaumont Hospital are planning to hold a lunchtime protest next Friday to highlight emergency department overcrowding, saying acutely ill and elderly, frail patients are spending up to three to four days waiting for a bed. They face "horrendous conditions" on trolleys and chairs along crowded, noisy corridors, the nurses said.

Dr Fergal Hickey, spokesman for emergency consultants across the country, warned overcrowding will continue until there is a sustained investment to dramatically reduce the patients occupying beds who need other care, including a nursing home place.

"If that was solved in the morning, it would almost completely get rid of the trolley problem. On an average day 300 are on trolleys and now there are 850 delayed discharge patients.

"Throwing a few million euro at it every now and then is not good enough. It needs to be sustained."

Irish Independent

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