Last month, I was admitted to the day ward of the hospital for some minor surgery on my head. When my husband came to collect me in the evening, the nurses asked him to come back in an hour as I was still sleeping off the general anaesthetic. When he returned, I was awake but very groggy and sore. The other patients had already been discharged home and as the unit was about to close for the day, I was transferred to one of the main wards of the hospital to be monitored overnight. By the following morning, I had recovered sufficiently to be discharged home. Why am I telling you this story?
I heard on the news the other day that in an effort to reduce healthcare spending in 2010, acute admissions to hospital are to be reduced by 54,000 in the coming year. The HSE wants to transform the way hospital services are run by moving healthcare out of the hospitals and into the community.
It’s proposing to do more day surgery procedures so that the costs of overnight stays in hospital can be avoided. There were 900 bed closures in acute hospitals across the State in 2009 and the HSE is proposing to close at least another 1,000 beds this year. This inevitably means that more people will be waiting longer for surgery. It also means that there will be no spare beds available for when day surgery unexpectedly results in an overnight stay.
But it could also mean this…