No financial incentives in place encouraging discharge of patients – HSE

Minister says wording of promotion at St James’s Hospital was ‘a bit off’

It emerged on Wednesday that prizes of up to €500 had been offered to wards at St James’s Hospital that sent the most patients who had completed their treatment to the discharge lounge by 11.00am. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

It emerged on Wednesday that prizes of up to €500 had been offered to wards at St James’s Hospital that sent the most patients who had completed their treatment to the discharge lounge by 11.00am. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

 

The HSE has said there are no financial incentive schemes in place in its hospitals to encourage the early discharge of patients similar to a controversial arrangement on offer at St James’s Hospital.

It emerged on Wednesday that prizes of up to €500 had been offered to wards at St James’s Hospital that sent the most patients who had completed their treatment to the discharge lounge by 11.00am. The initiative was aimed at improving the flow of patients through the hospital and to free up available beds more quickly for those requiring to be admitted.

The HSE, which operates the largest number of hospitals in the country, said it required each statutory and voluntary hospital to put in place measures to improve the effectiveness of patient discharging processes where a patient was deemed medically fit for discharge and an egress option was available.

“This includes the use of discharge lounges to free up beds for patients waiting on a hospital trolley for admission to a hospital bed. The HSE has not been informed of any incentivised schemes relating to the emergency department.”

St James’s, which is a voluntary hospital and not operated directly by the HSE, said as part of its initiative staff had not and would not secure any personal financial benefit.

“ Individual wards can access the funding to be used at their discretion for patient comforts or staff development”, the hospital said.

Poor taste

The Irish Independent reported that some patients at St James’s Hospital had complained that the initiative was in poor taste . It said that posters promoting the initiative in the hospital were to be taken down and re-designed.

The Minister for Health Simon Harris said he thought the wording on the poster at St James’s was “a bit off”’.

Mr Harris said he was pleased the promotion signs in the hospital had been taken down.

Beaumont Hospital in Dublin said it did not have a similar scheme in place for its personnel .A spokeswoman for the Ireland East group which includes St Vincent’s University Hospital and the Mater Hospital also said there were no such arrangements in place there.

The Irish Hospital Consultants Association said: “While the method, encouraging prompt discharge of patients at Saint James’ Hospital through incentives for individual hospital wards, was ill-judged, it does not take away from the underlying issue faced by the hospital professionals and all acute hospitals across the country. Namely, the severe shortage of acute hospital beds. “

“This lack of bed capacity is placing huge pressures on all hospital staff to ensure that patients requiring treatment can access timely care, including through freeing up hospital beds and getting patients off trolleys. “