Health Department acknowledges plans insufficient to deal with patient crisis

Increase in admissions and delayed discharges responsible for A&E overcrowding

Health service management anticipated there would be a surge in the numbers of patients presenting in hospital emergency units but the plans drawn up were insufficient to deal with issue, the Department of Health has acknowledged.

Health service management anticipated there would be a surge in the numbers of patients presenting in hospital emergency units but the plans drawn up were insufficient to deal with issue, the Department of Health has acknowledged.

 

Health service management anticipated there would be a surge in the numbers of patients presenting in hospital emergency units but the plans drawn up were insufficient to deal with issue, the Department of Health has acknowledged.

In a briefing paper prepared for an Oireachtas committee it said that as a result of the sustained growth in emergency admissions -- which increased by 2 per cent in 2014 -- and in delayed discharges - which were up by 30 percent -- pressures on emergency departments were forecast in December and a series of actions were put in place to mitigate the risks of overcrowding.

In the event, the escalation plans were necessary but were not sufficient to mitigate fully the anticipated surge in capacity requirements. The key limiting factor was that hospitals had effectively been in a state of escalation since autumn 2014 as evidenced by the reduction in elective activity of 4 percent and routine opening of up to 400 overflow beds.”

“With the peak in the number of Delayed Discharges in December 2014 at 835, the reduction of 109 that was achieved by starting the initiatives in December was not sufficient to bring Delayed Discharges back to 2014 levels.”

The Department of Health briefing paper presented to the Oireachtas committee on health and children says that on January 6 , the number of patients on trolleys in emergency departments or elsewhere in hospitals or in bed in an inappropriate space stood at 511 which represented a 32 per cent increase on the numbers in the same day in 2014.

“At that time there were 770 delayed discharges reported across the acute hospital services, approximately 150 more (+25 per cent than at this time last year). Higher numbers of delayed discharges is one the key factors impacting the emergency department pressures.”

Delayed discharge patients are those who have completed their phase of acute treatment in hospitals but who remain in beds due to lack of appropriate facilities to which they could be discharged.

The Minster for Health Leo Varadkar is to meet with the Oireachtas committee on health and children this morning to discuss health spending plans for this year.