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Dublin: 2 °C Friday 15 November, 2019
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Some non-critical facilities to be moved from Galway hospital

Services within the HSE West hospital structure are to be re-balanced in a bid to reduce waiting times at University Hospital Galway, with some non-critical facilities to be moved within the month.

Image: Adrian Clark via Creative Commons

STEPS WILL BE taken to balance services and reduce waiting times within the HSE West hospital structure, following recent revelations about Emergency Department waiting times at University Hospital Galway (UHG).

UHG has one of the busiest Emergency Departments in the country, with an average of 181 people presenting themselves at the facility each day, according to figures compiled by the HSE.

Local Labour TD Derek Nolan met with UHG chiefs yesterday after concerned constituents told him of severe overcrowding at the Emergency Department; he related stories of medical staff “stepping over elderly patients” who had been forced to wait on the floor at the hospital.

Following the meeting between Nolan, UHG Clinical Director Dr David O’Keeffe and consultant at the UHG Emergency Department John O’Donnell yesterday, a set of processes aimed at reducing waiting times and improving waiting condition were outlined.

The need for the services within the HSE West hospital structure to be re-balanced was recognised; as a result, a pledge was given to move some non-critical functions from Galway to other hospitals within the month. It is hoped that this will increase patients’ access to beds in the wards and reduce waiting times and overcrowding.

Nolan told TheJournal.ie that the cases to be moved from UHG will be mixed in nature, however he said the aim was to relocate treatment for approximately 2,000 day cases to alternative facilities nearby.

He also said that more chairs would be placed in the Emergency Department so patients would not be forced to sit on the floor as they waited.

In November, a new 32-bed Medical Admissions Unit will open, allowing for patients with direct GP referrals to bypass the Emergency Department and access the care they need immediately. Nolan said that a large number of cases currently presenting at the Emergency Department include direct GP referrals – for example patients who have been sent to be X-rayed – and the new unit will have a significant impact.

Nolan said the recently established Acute Surgical Referrals Unit will continue to provide similar support to that of the Medical Admissions Unit, and that a target to reduce discharge times in the Emergency Department from the current level of 14 hours to 6 hours by the end of the year had been established.

According to figures complied by the HSE, an average of 181 people presenting at UHG’s Emergency Department each day and, of those, an average 43 people are admitted. Of the patients admitted, nine wait for fewer than six hours; eight wait for between six and 12 hours; ten wait for between 12 and 24 hours; and nine wait for more than 24 hours for admittance.

The latest Trolley Watch figures by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation show that 38 people waited for treatment at UHG on trolleys yesterday.

Today, concerns have also been raised about overcrowding at Beaumont Hospital in Dublin: “I have heard that patients on trolleys are being put in behind doors or between existing beds on in-patient wards,” said Dublin North East Labour TD Sean Kenny. ”What really concerns me here is that this situation is happening during the summer season, where there is no surge in admissions caused by seasonal illness,” he said.

Kenny said that cutbacks have caused the closure of 60 acute beds in the last year: “This is compounded by the fact that 81 patients who were fit to be discharged were not able to be because no nursing home beds were available,” he added.

An average of 139 people arrive at the Emergency Department of Beaumont Hospital each day; the latest Trolley Watch figures by the INMO show that 32 people have been waiting on trolleys at the facility today.

According to the HSE, most patients who present themselves at the Beaumont’s Emergency Department wait between six and 12 hours to be admitted after the decision to admit them has been made – while an average of six people are forced to wait for more than 24 hours.

Read: Elderly patients forced to ‘wait on floor’ at Galway hospital>

Read: Fewer and fewer people have private health insurance>

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