Today we hear that the number of patients waiting on trolleys for admission to hospital around the country has reached similar levels to last year when the Minister for Health announced a national crisis in A&E. And the HSE is still trotting out excuses.
Has anyone else noticed that there’s been an ominous silence from Mary Harney since Christmas. What ever happened to the consultant’s contract which she insisted would be signed and sealed by Christmas? Where are the 2,000 extra beds promised for the public hospitals to alleviate the problems in A&E. Have you heard anything recently about the plans to develop a system of co-located hospitals to move private patients out of public beds? The HSE wheeled out a spokesman this evening to defend the inaction of the organisation. He was full of excuses as to why the problems are ongoing – even the winter vomiting bug was blamed. “It’s been difficult to find agency nurses to work in A&E”. “Home-care packages are coming on stream to enable old people to manage better in their own homes”. “Step-down beds will be available in a ‘few weeks’ for patients categorised as ‘delayed discharges’. This will release beds for acute patients”. All measures to relieve the crisis are always in the future. What about now?
Well, frankly Mr. HSE I’m not one bit impressed as we’ve heard it all before. A whole 365 days has gone past, very little has changed and today 365 patients are lying on trolleys awaiting beds. The backlog in A&E is a symptom of the failure in the whole hospital system. More beds are urgently needed and the HSE has no immediate plan in place to alleviate the shortage. Working conditions in A&E are so horrendous due to the overcrowding that only the most dedicated, or the most desperate, will work there. Is it any wonder that agency nurses are difficult to find? Why are we still waiting for the funding for home-care packages to happen? The recent Department of Health cutbacks in spending have curtailed any efforts to get this system up and running. There are long-stay beds available in nursing homes around the country but the HSE hasn’t put out to tender to secure these as step-down beds for the ‘bed blockers’ in our acute hospitals. Thousands of bed days are being lost in acute hospitals because of the failure to free-up beds. Improved primary care such as GP services, would greatly relieve the burden on our hospitals but again this invaluable resource is being ignored by the HSE.
It’s becoming patently obviously that the Minister for Health has lost the plot. Even the dogs in the street know that the HSE is failing to steer the health service in the right direction. It’s like a ship without a rudder… if only it would sink.