Sunday 18 August 2019

Man (92) languishes in hospital for 70 days 'due to issues with the funding of home help'

(stock photo)
(stock photo)

Marese McDonagh

A 92-year-old man has spent more than 70 days at Sligo University Hospital despite being medically fit to be discharged for at least 60 days, it has emerged.

The case has been highlighted by consultant cardiologist Dr Donal Murray, who believes that lack of home-help hours is the reason for the man's prolonged stay in hospital.

The consultant, who described the case as "crazy stuff", said it was a miracle that the man had not caught a bug on the ward, or fallen and broken his hip "as will often happen with elderly people in hospital". He said the man, who lives on his own in a remote rural area, was a classic example of someone who would do very well at home with just a bit of assistance from a home help who could keep an eye on him, and do a bit of work around the house.

In an interview with Ocean FM, Dr Murray said it was an "extraordinary" situation.

He said that from the man's point of view, the longer he remained in hospital the more difficult it would be for him when discharged.

He said the hospital had a surge in referrals from the emergency department in the past month or two while many patients were on corridors.

"And this poor man, through no fault of his own, to use that very crude term, is blocking a bed on people who are needing a bed, and it is absolutely no fault of his," added the cardiologist.

On April 9 last there were 50 patients on trolleys in Sligo University Hospital, the second-highest figure in the country that day, according to figures compiled by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO).

Dr Murray said the 92-year-old, who yesterday was on his 71st day in Sligo hospital, had been admitted with cardiac issues which were resolved very quickly, "within a week really".

He said the man was fit to be discharged for at least 60 days.

The consultant said something had gone wrong with funding for the home-help system and it needed to be addressed urgently.

He said he had written to "anyone in management I can think of" but had heard nothing back. He had heard on the grapevine that funding for home help was the issue.

Dr Murray added that in the run-up to the election "this is one question I will be putting to anyone coming to my doorstep looking for a vote - what is happening with our home-help system in this part of the world?"

The HSE has been asked for a comment.

There were 445 admitted patients waiting for beds yesterday; 306 of these were waiting in the emergency department, said the INMO.

Separately, Mental Health and Older People Minister Jim Daly has called on the HSE to implement recommendations of the report into 'delayed discharges'.

The Independent Expert Review of Delayed Discharges recognised that delayed discharges are caused by a multitude of factors, and it made nine recommendations which include the development of a national policy to provide for a more consistent approach to recording instances, strengthening data collection, standardising definitions and ensuring consistent discharge guidelines.

Irish Independent

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