Fianna Fáil Health Spokesperson Billy Kelleher has called on Minister James Reilly to make an urgent statement to explain why over 93,000 bed days were lost in just 19 weeks in hospitals across the country, almost 5,000 a week on average. The greatest number of bed days lost are in Dublin hospitals:
St. James’s Hospital – 12,871
Beaumont Hospital – 12,646
Mater Hospital – 10,461
St. Vincent’s University Hospital – 8,015
Deputy Kelleher said: “In the first four and a half months of the year over 93,000 bed days were lost due to delayed discharges [full list in attached table]. The public hospital system is creaking and Minister Reilly’s policy of cutting home care packages and closing 1,000 public nursing home beds this year are impacting directly on our hospitals.
“Community nursing home beds and home care packages are essential to ensuring that people who don’t need to be in hospital any more can move to community or home settings when their hospital care is complete. Disproportionate cuts to these areas hit the most vulnerable in society and it is an issue the Minister must address as a matter of urgency.
“There is no confidence that I can see that this Government is protecting frontline services while tackling costs within the health service. When you look at the cuts to home care packages and the closure of nursing home beds, not alone is this having a direct impact on the people who are in needs of this care but it is causing major problems in the hospital system and bed days are being lost.
“Given that Minister Reilly has acknowledged that the HSE was overspending to the tune of €145m to the end March the impact on frontline services for the rest of the year is bound to be severe unless action is taken to protect them.
“There were almost 11,000 receipt of home care packages in place to support sick and elderly patients at end of last year and with hundreds cut already there is now a genuine fear that hundreds more will be cut throughout the year in the pursuit of budget targets.
“Minister Reilly has told the HSE to get their books in order but in fact the HSE board is now stacked with seven senior civil servants, six of them from Minister Reilly’s own department. Local hospitals across the country need strong management from the Minister, clear policy decisions and an understanding of the needs to protect vital frontline services.”