HSE figures provided to Fianna Fáil show that more than 136,239 bed days were lost in the hospital system owing to delayed discharges during the first eight months of the year.
Patients are classified as delayed discharges when they no longer need to be cared for in an acute hospital setting, but has no access to an appropriate step down care facility.
Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Older People Mary Butler says that to lose over 90,000 bed days when so many are presenting for treatment in our Emergency Departments is indefensible.
“Whether you view if from a patient perspective or from that of resources it’s a major challenge for the health system. To lose an average of 17,000 bed days a month is just not good enough.
“Delayed discharges have a proportional impact on the number of people lying on trolleys in our Emergency Departments. If beds are being used by patient who should be cared for in another facility, there won’t be the capacity needed to deal with surges in Emergency Departments.
“A key factor here, of course, is the inadequacy of step-down facilities and home care. The Health Service Capacity Review published this year says that 13,000 extra residential care beds are required by 2030 – that translates to 1,000 extra beds a year.
“However so far the government has been silent as to how these are to be provided with the National Development Plan pledging just 4,000.
“It is very clear that this problem will continue unless significant investment is needed. The demographic challenge alone dictates what is required and the next HSE service plan should make a start on providing what is necessary.”