No A&E, but Bantry has a trol­ley cri­sis too

New f ig­ures show that even small hos­pi­tals are bear­ing brunt

The Irish Mail on Sunday - - COMMENT - By Ni­amh Grif­fin HEALTH COR­RE­SPON­DENT ni­amh.grif­fin@mailon­sun­

ONE of Ire­land’s small­est hos­pi­tals, which does not have an emer­gency depart­ment, has a grow­ing prob­lem with trol­leys, an Ir­ish Mail on Sun­day anal­y­sis of trol­ley fig­ures re­veals.

It comes as nurses’ union the INMO warns that num­bers of pa­tients con­fined to trol­leys overnight in hos­pi­tals could hit 100,000 by year’s end, if the cur­rent trend con­tin­ues.

New fig­ures for wait­ing lists show yet another record high of

Emer­gency depart­ment closed four years ago

al­most 680,000. Ob­servers say one rea­son for this is the can­cel­la­tion of elec­tive surg­eries to ac­com­mo­date pres­sure from emer­gency de­part­ments.

Ev­ery week, nurses’ union the INMO counts pa­tients who were ad­mit­ted to hos­pi­tal via the emer­gency depart­ment but had to spend the night on a trol­ley due to short­ages in the main hos­pi­tal.

Larger hos­pi­tals have made the head­lines over their trol­ley fig­ures. The lat­est fig­ures sug­gest that smaller hos­pi­tals are now join­ing the ranks of the over­whelmed.

The anal­y­sis of INMO fig­ures by the Ir­ish Mail on Sun­day shows that Bantry Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal which does not have an emer­gency depart­ment con­tin­u­ally has pa­tients on trol­leys, and parked on wards. The emer­gency depart­ment in Bantry hos­pi­tal, which cov­ers a large ru­ral area in Co. Cork, closed in 2013. This should mean no over­crowd­ing, but, for ex­am­ple, in Septem­ber pa­tients were struck on trol­leys dur­ing 10 of the 21 days counted by the union.

Last week there were 16 peo­ple on trol­leys, on four out of five days counted by the INMO. The over­all per­cent­age of days that Bantry Hos­pi­tal had pa­tients on trol­leys in 2017 was 59%, or nearly three out of ev­ery four days in the first nine months of this year.

This com­pares to 48% of days where pa­tients were on trol­leys in 2016, and 30% in 2015 – show­ing that the prob­lem is get­ting worse.

The to­tal num­ber of pa­tients on trol­leys jumped from 233 in 2015, to 616 in 2016. The fig­ure for the first nine months of this year has al­ready hit 550 pa­tients.

A med­i­cal as­sess­ment unit treats pa­tients dur­ing the day but af­ter hours, emer­gency cases are ad­mit­ted to the hos­pi­tal – or face a 60km jour­ney to Cork city. Lo­cal TD Mary Mur­phy O’Ma­hony has blamed limited ac­cess to respite beds in the area for de­lays in re­leas­ing pa­tients from wards.

‘We could see record fig­ure for 2017’

Re­fer­ring to the sit­u­a­tion in Bantry, the INMO’s Liam Do­ran said: ‘If Bantry was an air­craft, it would not fly. They are un­der se­vere pres­sure, they are un­der­staffed and of­ten there is no med­i­cal cover. This slows ac­cess to di­ag­nos­tics.’ A spokesman for the South/South­West Hos­pi­tal group seemed to miss the point of the MoS’s query: ‘Bantry Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal does not have an Emer­gency Depart­ment and there­fore it would be mis­lead­ing to in­clude the fig­ures ref­er­enced in this par­tic­u­lar con­text.’

Mr Do­ran warned: ‘If we keep go­ing like this, we will see a record num­ber for 2017. We are at 73,000 now and the to­tal for last year was 95,000. We could def­i­nitely reach 100,000 if some­thing is not done.’

And he said small hos­pi­tals that are still run­ning emer­gency de­part­ments are also un­der pres­sure. He said: ‘Some of the worst ex­pe­ri­ences for pa­tients now are in the smaller places.’

The HSE has been try­ing to re­cruit emer­gency depart­ment nurses, aim­ing to bring in 125 na­tion­wide. So far the agency has re­cruited 17.

Mean­while, Health Min­is­ter Si­mon Har­ris yes­ter­day in­sisted that pub­lic hos­pi­tals are able to cope with the wait­ing lists, say­ing ex­tra fund­ing would be pro­vided on Bud­get Day.

Re­fer­ring to ex­tra fund­ing for the Na­tional Treat­ment Pur­chase Fund, he told the MoS: ‘This year a sig­nif­i­cant por­tion of fund­ing has gone to the pri­vate sec­tor but we have seen a sig­nif­i­cant amount of in-sourc­ing (mov­ing pa­tients from one HSE hos­pi­tal to another). I ex­pect that to con­tinue.’

A spokesman for the Ir­ish Hos­pi­tal Con­sul­tants As­so­ci­a­tion said these pa­tients are al­ready in com­pe­ti­tion for the same beds.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.