The latest figures provided by the HSE to Fianna Fáil show that 218,028 hospital bed days were lost from January to November this year as a result of delayed discharges.

A patient is categorised as a delayed discharge or a delayed transfer of care when they no longer require care in an acute hospital setting but have no access to appropriate post-hospital care, whether it be in the home or in a step down bed.

There were 682 of these patients in November, bringing the total for the 11 month period to 9,809.

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Older People Mary Butler says that the figures are further evidence that the healthcare system under Fine Gael is simply unable to cope.

“I have no doubt that the crisis in the provision of home care is a major contributing factor in these delayed discharges.  The waiting list for home care has jumped from 6,000 to nearly 8,000 over the course of 2019. It has always been obvious to me that the restrictions on home care for older people would put further pressure on acute hospital services”, said Deputy Butler.

“However, the government seems intent on making the problem worse next year with the HSE cutting the number of short stay beds in public units – from 1,929 to 1,720 – a policy which flies in the face of the HSE capacity review which called for between 5,600 and 6,300 extra beds in this category by 2030.

“Ideally, older people want to be in their own homes with the correct wrap around supports, and not in a hospital bed.  The only reason this situation has developed is because Fine Gael has failed to ensure that enough step-down facilities are available.  This has had disastrous consequences, with hospitals and medical staff throughout the country struggling with continuous overcrowding and patients lying on trolleys – some in for more than 24 hours,” she concluded.