St Luke's Hospital is suffering from unseasonably high levels of overcrowding
There were 2,044 delayed discharges at St Luke's Hospital in Kilkenny in the first half of the year - a situation directly related to the number of 'bed days' lost and causing overcrowding, according to one local TD.
Fianna Fail TD Bobby Aylward has said that there is a solution to the overcrowding in Emergency Departments but it will require the HSE and the Government to deal with the major challenge of delayed discharges in the hospital network.
Deputy Aylward was commenting after an analysis by his party of Parliamentary Question replies from the HSE. They showed there were 91,197 delayed discharges at hospitals across the country, including 2,044 at St Luke’s Hospital in Kilkenny, over the first six months of 2017.
“From both a resource and patient care point of view, these lost bed days are unjustifiable,” said Deputy Aylward.
“It is further evidence that the level of support being provided to mainly older patients is not good enough. We know that across the State, there are too few step down beds in the health system and that home supports remain inadequate.
“The excessive and unforgivable situation where hundreds of patients are lying on trolleys in Emergency Departments or in wards is directly related to the number of bed days lost in the system."
The Carlow-Kilkenny TD said that if a fraction of those lost days were put back into use through better supports for older people upon discharge, it could radically reduce the number of people on trolleys.
“My instinct is that the amount expended keeping these patients in hospital is a lot more than the cost of providing decent, quality home care packages or care in a step-down care facility," he said.
"The HSE must accept that utilising our community hospital facilities to support and care for non-acute patients is the way to go. The aim should be to allow people to be cared for outside of the acute hospital network. This will help ensure that there is more space for people attending Emergency Departments and who need to be admitted to the main hospital.
“What we do know though is this problem will continue unless real resources are put in to tackle it. The demographic changes alone will ensure that such investment is necessary."