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Dept of Health to give €3 million to hospitals - but "crisis situation" remains

The general secretary of the INMO said the money is welcomed – but that Ireland’s Emergency Departments are in a “crisis situation”.
Nov 15th 2011, 1:28 PM 1,145 3

THE DEPARTMENT OF Health is to donate almost €3 million to eight Irish hospitals to help ease pressure in their emergency departments.

The money is coming from the Special Delivery Unit initiative run by the department and is to help emergency departments discharge patients and enable them to implement the HSE’s acute medicine programme.

The SDU funding will last until 31 December this year and it is expected that the  measures will stay in place in January of 2012 with funding from the HSE.

  • Tallaght Hospital Dublin will receive €306,675. It will go towards the opening of a 12-bed ward; discharging 10 patients to a single nursing home; an additional community Gerontologist; funding for a chest pain service enhancement; and two additional home care packages per week.
  • The Mater Hospital will receive €730,000 for measures including: assisted discharge packages; intermediate beds; increased bed capacity within Mater; and the re-opening of 17 step down beds at St Mary’s Hospital Phoenix Park.
  • St Vincent’s & St Colmcille’s €448,000 will go towards 229 assisted discharge packages; a 40 bed ward; and eight step down beds in Leopardstown Park Hospital.
  • Cork University Hospital will receive €429,800 to reinstate community support beds;  more MRI, ultrasound and CT scans to reduce admissions and waiting times; nursing support and a cardiac technician for a chest pain assessment unit; an ambulance for Monday to Friday from 8 am – 6pm and over the weekend.
  • Galway’s hospital will receive €349,000 for the extension of a medical assessment unit; opening an eight-bed five-day unit for the remainder of the year; off-site convalescence care; and enhanced interim care packages.
  • At Beaumont, the €407,600 will go towards buying assisted discharge care packages; creating a 31 bed ward; rapid access nurse service seven days a week; increasing cardiology diagnostics during the week and on Saturdays to enable the discharge of four patients each weekend.

Liam Doran of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) told TheJournal.ie that the INMO welcomed the news of this funding but that Emergency Departments are in the midst of a “crisis situation”.

He pointed out that the money will go to the hospitals from this month until January, “the three deepest months of the winter”, but that trolley figures for previous years showed that emergency departments are also extremely busy in February, March and April.

He warned that the money, while welcome, is “not enough” as there are 2,300 beds closed across the system and the HSE is paring back on health care packages.

The INMO is highlighting ED overcrowding for nine years and the situation has gotten worse, not better. It is primarily down to demand, and failure to have a community-based service as an alternative.
We are in a crisis situation. I don’t think that’s hyperbole any more. We are now facing a crisis of massive proportions.

He said that the situation won’t improve until there is a consistent planned reform of the health system.

“No one can stand over having an overcrowded Emergency Department when you have a closed ward,” he said. “Until that is addressed or reversed we are battling against the tide.”

He said the health service is treating more patients year on year but with less and less funds.

This will be the fourth year in a row where the budget has been cut and that is untenable; that isn’t consistent with having a user-friendly, high-quality public health service.

Read: Government to outsource senior management positions at two hospitals>

Read: Nurses to continue protest over conditions at Limerick hospital>

Read: Nurses set for work stoppage at Limerick’s Mid-Western hospital>

Read: Emergency Department at Galway hospital under “extreme pressure”>

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Aoife Barry

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