15,000 bed days lost every month as hospital crisis continues

New figures reveal that over 90,000 hospital bed days were lost in the first half of 2017

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Picture by: Tim Ockenden / PA Archive/Press Association Images

The HSE is under fire after new figures revealed that over 90,000 ‘bed days’ have been lost as a result of delayed discharges from hospitals in the first half of this year.

The figures were supplied to Fianna Fáil spokesperson Billy Kelleher.

Patients are classified as delayed discharges when they no longer need to be cared for in an acute hospital setting but have no access to appropriate step down care.

Deputy Kelleher said the figures provide further evidence the level of support provided to mainly older patients by the state is “simply 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,” he said.

“If a fraction of these lost days were put back into use every day through better supports for older people upon discharge, we could radically reduce the number of people lying on trolleys.”

The controversy comes after new figures revealed that almost 58,000 patients were forced to wait for treatment on trolleys or in wards in the first seven months of this year.

Deputy Kelleher said the “excessive and unforgivable” trolley crisis in our hospitals is “directly related to the number of bed days lost in the system.”

“It is extraordinary,” he said. “We now find out that 91,000 bed days have been lost in the first six months of this year in terms of patients being in a hospital when they are fit and well enough to be discharged,” he said.

“It puts huge pressures on the hospital system.

“All of these problems within the health service are down to the fact that people can’t move seamlessly through the hospital and when they are discharged actually go home, go to community care or a step-down facility.”

Deputy Kelleher also took aim at the HSE for its failure to provide information regarding the length of time patient discharges are being delayed.

“I would have thought that such information would be monitored and recorded as a matter of course,” he said.

“Until we know how long patients are staying, how can we calculate the actual cost to the health system?”

He insisted that the crisis will continue “unless real resources are put in to tackle it” adding that Ireland’s ageing population is likely to add further pressures.