More than 15,600 patients blocked beds for a month
MORE than 15,600 patients who no longer needed to be in hospital stayed there for at least a month last year, writes Eilish O'Regan.
The problem of 'bed blockers' worsened -- despite promises that it was being tackled.
Bed blockers are mostly elderly and take up beds because of delays in providing them with a nursing home or home care package
An ESRI report on public hospital activity for 2012, published today, shows they accounted for 2.5pc of 625,066 in-patient discharges and could not leave for 73 days in some cases.
They accounted for nearly a third of the in-patient bed days used.
Meanwhile, the proportion of private patients treated in public hospitals has continued to fall, making up less than 17pc of patients last year.
Public hospitals should restrict the proportion of private patients treated to no more than 20pc, but in the past, when more than half the population had health insurance, this was breached.