HSE must be questioned regarding planning failure for A & E crisis


25th January 2017


Nursing Homes Ireland has called on the Joint Committee on Health to question the HSE regarding planning failure in advance of its Winter ‘planning’.


Tadhg Daly, NHI CEO said: “Despite a Department of Health commitment last July that the HSE would engage with our sector as part of its Winter planning process, it is startling no engagement was undertaken with our sector in advance of the crisis that emanated.  At the height of the emergency crisis on January 5th, NHI notified the Department of Health and HSE that 742 beds were available across Ireland within nursing homes. At the end of December Minister Harris had proclaimed 436 patients classified as delayed discharged in acute hospitals as being a new low and representing “hugely welcome progress”. Yet a week later our A & E’s and acute hospitals were plunged into an unprecedented crisis, while hundreds of beds stood available within nursing homes to provide step-down or long-term care within our communities. There is a real concern the non-engagement and Minister Harris pronouncement signified a complacent attitude towards planning for Winter pressures and the role of nursing home care was erroneously overlooked.


“Parochial thinking within health planning is further evident when we consider despite consistent bed availability within nursing homes to alleviate pressures and emergencies within our acute hospitals, the A&E Taskforce has never engaged with NHI. This is most remarkable and concerning given the suffering of patients in hospitals.”   


The Joint Committee is conducting an investigation today into overcrowding at hospital emergency departments and will be questioning the Irish Association of Emergency Medicine and the Health Service Executive.


NHI CEO Tadhg Daly added.  “While the HSE has substantially reduced numbers delayed discharged, with timely access to nursing home care playing a lead role in this regard, there must be a concerted focus upon ensuring the hundreds who continue to remain within hospitals can access beds that are available for them within their local nursing homes in an immediate timeframe.  The HSE Performance reports consistently inform circa two-thirds of persons clinically fit for discharge from acute hospitals - classified as delayed discharged - are awaiting long-term nursing care.”


NHI provides detail re bed availability within nursing homes across the country to the HSE on a monthly basis. Nursing homes are intrinsic to alleviating pressures within our acute hospitals, enabling provision of step-down, respite, transitional, rehabilitative, as well as long-term care. They are dedicated healthcare settings within our communities employing dedicated care teams that provide ongoing access to specialist clinical care removed from the acute hospital setting and close to home.


Tadhg Daly, NHI CEO, is available for further comment. Contact Michael McGlynn, NHI Communications & Research Executive at 01 4699800 or 087 9082970. 


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