Fianna Fáil TD Eugene Murphy believes that spare capacity in private nursing homes should be used to relieve overcrowding.
Eugene Murphy was commenting on figures which showed that capacity levels in State-run nursing homes has dropped by 18% in the past six years while there are spare beds available in private nursing homes which could help alleviate the pressure on emergency departments.
Emergency Department overcrowding levels have hovered consistently about 400 people on trolleys while and at the beginning of February that figure hit 601.
“Why is it that our national health providers are no longer shocked at these figures? Something has clearly gone wrong, and a focus on patient care has been lost when the Minister and the Government discuss overcrowding.
“The simple fact is that there is not enough capacity in the acute hospital network to deal with the volume of cases coming via Emergency Departments.
Eugene Murphy went on to say that “What is also evident is that there are those in our acute hospitals who could be better cared for in step-down community facilities, or in nursing homes. Recent figures provided to Fianna Fáil indicate that bed capacity in state run nursing homes in County Galway has dropped by almost 15% over the past six years while there is a drop of almost 10% in the number of beds in state run nursing homes in County Roscommon in the same time period. In Sligo/Leitrim the situation is considerably worse where there has been a drop of some 27% in the number of beds in state-run nursing homes from the years 2010 to 2016. Longford/Westmeath has seen a drop of 18% in the number of beds in state-run nursing homes over the same time period.
I have been contacted by very concerned operators of private nursing homes in the Galway area who have a considerable amount of spare beds and yet Portiuncula Hospital and University College Hospital are still referring people to community based nursing homes and overcrowding continues to be an issue at these hospitals and I believe private nursing homes can help alleviate that pressure as they have spare bed capacity which is not being used,” said Deputy Murphy.
“Nursing Homes Ireland believe that at the start of 2016, there were 742 beds available in 172 nursing homes around the country. In addition, the HSE has confirmed that there has been an 18% drop in the number of state-owned nursing home bases between 2010 and 2016.
Not enough patients are being discharged into the right community or nursing home setting to relieve the chronic pressure facing our emergency departments.
“Until this is realised, and additional capacity is brought on stream, we will continue to see overcrowding in our Emergency Departments.
“The Government has an opportunity as part of the midterm review of the Capital Plan Capital Review to commit to investing in our health system and urgent action must be taken to help alleviate the pressure on overcrowded emergency departments which are already bursting at the seams”, concluded Deputy Murphy.