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'He asked a nurse to be washed but there were 10 people in front of him'

It was told “from a quality and safety perspective this situation is unacceptable.”.

Image: Shutterstock/CristinaMuraca

THE HSE WERE warned that delayed discharges were putting lives at risk last September, according to RTE’s Prime Time.

The then-National Director for Acute Hospitals Dr Tony O’Connell says he wrote an analysis of the problem almost six months ago.

Dr O’Connell left his job suddenly in January after just eight months in one of the HSE’s most senior posts.

He believes that people are dying because of blockages in the system. At the time he wrote the analysis, there were 703 delayed discharge patients in the acute hospital system.

Last week, there were even more – 755 – delayed discharge patients in the system.

The family of an elderly man who was one such patient said,

I heard him ask a nurse if he could be washed and she said ‘There are 10 others in front of you’.

“It was sad to see him just stare into space because there was nothing else to do.”

Dr O’Connell revealed there were actually ‘a handful of patients who live permanently in our acute beds, in that they have been waiting over three years for placement’.

Waiting to draw funds

Many of the delayed discharge patients are elderly patients who have been approved for funding for private nursing home care under the Fair Deal scheme but who are waiting to draw down the funds.

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There are currently 1,239 people waiting 11 weeks for their Fair Deal funding.

The Department of Health has provided an extra €10 million to the Fair Deal Scheme since Christmas – 500 transitional care beds were funded in private nursing homes in January and a further 400 beds have been funded in February.

A review of the Fair Deal Scheme will shortly be submitted to the Minister of State with responsibility for Primary and Social Care Kathleen Lynch and to the Minister for Health Leo Varadker.

Read: Sticky residue and stains found on equipment at Limerick hospital>

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