Commenting on figures from the HSE showing the level of hospital bed closures and the number of patients who are ready to be discharged from hospital but for whom there are no residential care places or adequate care in the community, Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD said:
“The level of both hospital bed closures and delayed discharges of patients is shrinking the capacity of our hospitals. This makes a nonsense of the ‘efficiencies’ signalled from the recent talks with consultants who are prepared to work more flexibly. If the hospital beds and staff are not there then the consultants will not be able to treat more patients.
“While the HSE gives the figure of 852 hospital beds closed, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation figure is over 2,400. When we add this to the 680 beds occupied by patients who should be discharged we see the great number of beds unavailable to cater for the many thousands on hospital waiting lists.
“This situation is made worse by the closure of hundreds of public nursing home beds and the cuts to home care packages. It all adds to the distress, especially for older people whose hospital treatment has been completed but who are left in limbo because there are inadequate services to support them when discharged from hospital.
“The unsustainability of the current coalition cuts regime is becoming more apparent every day.”