So that’s it! My grumble of last week has already become a reality. The HSE cutbacks are in full swing. One large ward at the public nursing home where my parents reside, has now officially been closed down. Once enough beds have been freed-up (which only occurs when another resident dies) to accommodate the residents from this ward, there will be 20 less long stay beds in the system. As well as this, all further placements for long term care at the nursing home, have been suspended until further notice.
It’s inevitable that this action will cause a negative knock-on effect on public health in the area served by this nursing home. People who are struggling to cope at home with a relative suffering from dementia (who needs round the clock care), are now going to have to wait even longer for help to arrive. The HSE has just cruelly lengthened the queue for long-term beds. If you have an elderly relative in hospital who’s ready to be discharged to a step-down bed in a local nursing home, then their wait in hospital has just got longer. These patients are often unfairly referred to as bed-blockers because of the log jam caused when acute hospital beds are used for long term care. This blockage of acute beds impacts on A&E services where waiting times on trolleys will inevitably increase thereby causing further chaos in emergency departments. Waiting lists for elective surgery will also get longer and operations will be cancelled because of the pressure put on bed allocation.
These delays are all a direct result of the HSE’s decision to restrict funding to one nursing home. Once again, we have no joined-up thinking coming from the HSE. If this action is replicated around the country which no doubt is the plan, then I fear the consequences. Morale in the health service has already been eroded by cutbacks across the service. This latest action from the HSE is enough to make anyone despair.
Help! I think I feel another health crisis coming on.