Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health David Cullinane TD has called on the government to adopt a zero-tolerance approach to hospital overcrowding following the publication of the INMO’s Trolley Watch analysis for March, which has been the worst March on record.
Teachta Cullinane said that the Minister for Health must take charge of the situation and fix the root causes of emergency department dysfunction.
He added that a serious plan needs to be put in place to reduce ED waits, remove wasteful or poor management practices, and ensure that investments are made to expand capacity where it is needed most.
Teachta Cullinane said:
“The government must take a zero-tolerance approach to hospital overcrowding.
“The Minister must take charge of the situation, root out wasteful or poor management practices, and make sure that the worst performing hospitals are able to adopt better patient management practices from hospitals which have made significant progress in recent years.
“This is not a new issue – patients have been suffering the torturous consequences of overcrowding for years.
“The root causes of emergency department dysfunction are poor patient flow, low hospital capacity, delayed discharges, poor out-of-hours GP coverage and a lack of alternatives in the community.
“There is, without question, a need for more beds and more capacity in diagnostics and surgical theatres, but that is not all.
“There are efficiency reforms that have worked in some hospitals to reduce overcrowding and reduce delays in discharging patients, such as specialist medical wards. All hospitals must act on each other’s successes and failures.
“Responsibility for discharge in lower complexity cases can be given to appropriately qualified non-consultant doctors and senior nurses.
“Above all else, we need to join up community and hospital healthcare. Too often, hospitals are left trying to discharge a patient, but there is no recovery bed available for them. Regional Health Areas will help to streamline this process.
“The long festering problems in primary care and general practice, which are a direct result of not training enough doctors and allied health professionals, need to be dealt with.”