If ever evidence was required to confirm that additional step-down facilities are required in the Sligo University Hospital catchment area, surely this is it, said Councillor Declan Bree, when he was advised at a meeting of the Regional Health Forum West, that the cumulative number of bed days lost in Sligo University Hospital in 2022 as a result of delayed discharges is 4009.
Cllr Bree had submitted a question seeking details of the number of bed days lost and what plans the Department of Health and the HSE had to increase the number of step-down beds and step-down facilities in the hospital catchment area
Tony Canavan, the CEO of the Saolta University Hospital Group told the meeting: “The HSE has fourteen beds in Nazareth House and eight contracted beds in Ballymore Nursing Units. These beds facilitate respite and convalescence only.
“Patients who require additional services, such as speech and language or occupational therapy supports, are not suitable to be admitted to these beds as those services are not available in these respite/convalescence beds.
“St John’s Community Hospital has twenty consultant beds and thirteen non-consultant beds, while St Patrick’s Community Hospital has nineteen short stay beds.
“There are step-down beds available within the Sligo University Hospital catchment area, however the services can be limited for patients with more complex needs.” he said
Responding, Cllr Bree said “All of us from Sligo and Leitrim and South Donegal are acutely aware of the consistent, unacceptable and shocking overcrowding in Sligo University Hospital.
“The fact that a total of 4,009 bed days were lost last year due to delayed discharges from the hospital clearly indicates the urgent need for increased step-down beds.
“Time and time again we hear of medically well patients who are ready for discharge but must remain in the hospital because there is not appropriate step-down facilities available.
“While patients who are medically ready for discharge remain in a hospital bed, many newly admitted patients are on trolleys in the emergency department waiting hours and even days for a bed in a ward.
“Clearly this cannot be allowed to continue.
“The reply I have received indicates that there are a total of only 74 step-down beds in the hospital catchment area.
“And it would also appear from the reply that there are no proposals to provide additional much needed step-down beds in the catchment area.
“Surely it must now be obvious to everyone that there is an urgent need for improved home care services and additional step-down beds to help relieve the overcrowding in Sligo University Hospital?
“I would appeal to the HSE in the region to make the case for additional resources and step-down beds for the hospital catchment area,” said Cllr Bree.