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Delayed discharges a national crisis – Adams

25 February, 2015 - by Gerry Adams TD


Sinn Féin Leader Gerry Adams TD has said that the situation in public hospitals is a national crisis and that the Government response has been woefully inadequate. He raised the issue with Taoiseach Enda Kenny in the Dáil today.

Mr Adams said the Government had ignored dire warnings from HIQA and Dr Tony O’Connell, the formerNational Director for Acute Hospitals and said that lives had presumably already been lost.

Gerry Adams said:

“This morning, there are 479 citizens languishing on trolleys in our hospitals. The second highest number – 40 citizens on trolleys – is in Our Lady of Lourdes in my own constituency. I have been raising this issue consistently in the Dáil.”

“Three times I have raised with the Taoiseach a letter from HIQA which  points out  that if recommendations it made in 2012 had been implemented, the current risks to patients would have been 'significantly reduced'. The Taoiseach has yet to respond adequately to me on this issue.”

“The current situation in our hospitals is entirely unacceptable. The Minister for Health has said that this problem is a feature of ‘our dysfunctional health system’. He also said ‘It only stands to reason that lives could be lost’. He is the Minister for Health, not some neutral commentator. He is acknowledging that lives could be lost as a result of this crisis.”

“One could presume that lives have already been lost. This is a national crisis. €25 million allocated to the Fair Deal scheme will only deal with 300 patients. That is only a quarter of the amount of patients who have been clinically discharged.”

“Acute wards are the wrong place for clinically discharged patients The Minister for Health has admitted this morning that lives may be lost as a result of this situation. The Government must immediately put in place measures to tackle this.”

“Therehave been many warnings that patients’ lives are at risk as a result of Government policy. Last evening’s RTE Prime Time focused on yet another warning; this time from the then-National Director for Acute Hospitals Dr. Tony O’Connell.”

“Last September he reported very clearly that citizens are dying as a result of delayed hospital discharges. We didn’t get this information from you or the Minister for Health. It came by way of a Freedom of Information Inquiry from an investigative journalist. So much for transparency.”

“When Dr. O’Connell wrote his analysis, there were 703 delayed discharge patients in the acute hospital system. But last week, there were even more – 755.”

“Dr. O’Connell has stated that some patients ‘live permanently in our acute beds, in that they have been waiting over three years for placement’. Many delayed discharge patients are elderly and have been approved for funding for private nursing home care under the Fair Deal scheme. But they haven’t had access to the funding.”

“There are currently 1,239 people waiting 11 weeks for Fair Deal funding. Frail and elderly patients risk hospital acquired infections, falls, pressure ulcers, and medication errors, while being nursed in busy acute hospital settings for months on end. This situation is scandalous.”

“Dr. O'Connell concluded that ‘the long term solution to this problem is adequate funding of the social care sector’.”

“The HSE asked for €200 million to deal with demographic pressures for 2015. It was given just €25 million.”

“The Government ignored this building crisis. The dire warnings of Dr O’Connell were ignored as with the recommendations from HIQA. The Government’s approach to this issue to date has been woefully inadequate.”

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