€74m Announced To Tackle ED Overcrowding

The Government has confirmed it is to set aside €74m to try and tackle overcrowding in Emergency Departments in Ireland.

Of this amount, €44m will be allocated to the Nursing Homes Support Scheme, which will provide an additional 1,600 places and reduce the waiting time for approved applicants from the current 11 weeks to the previous norm of four weeks for the rest of the year. The remaining €30m will be used to cover the cost of additional transitional care beds (temporary contract beds) through to June 2015, and additional community, convalescence and district hospital beds on a permanent basis, both of which facilitate more rapid discharge from hospital. The temporary transitional beds currently in use to address ED overcrowding will be replaced by sustainable and more cost-effective beds under the Fair Deal scheme. In addition, up to 250 community care beds will be made available around the country. Around 60 of these are already open.

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar commented: "Overcrowding in our hospitals has eased since January and is trending downwards. But it remains higher than at this point last year. Similarly the number of delayed discharges has fallen from a peak of 850 but remains over 700.

"For these reasons, it is necessary to take additional action to provide more nursing home placements to free up acute hospital beds and make more community, convalesce and district hospital beds available. The implementation of these measures has now begun but will take about eight weeks to fully implement.

"Taken together, these actions will have a noticeable and measurable impact on trollies, overcrowding and delayed discharges. It will not, however, resolve all problems in all sites. That is not solely a matter of resources and is very much linked to process, management, efficiency and patient flow.

"This will require further attention. With this extra money we can do the expensive part by creating more capacity across the board. The next part is much less expensive but much harder to achieve as it involves better use of existing resources in the main. Surges will still happen from time to time as they do in all countries.

"Reducing the level of delayed discharges and the wait for Fair Deal places in a meaningful way will improve significantly the situation in many hospitals. I believe however that improvement is not solely, or even mainly, a case of funding. Reform of practices and processes needs to happen on the ground, and I appreciate that in many cases that is already happening."

Minister for Primary Care, Social Care and Mental Health, Kathleen Lynch, added: "It is Government policy to facilitate older people to stay in their own homes and communities for as long as possible, and to provide residential care services when they are needed. This additional funding addresses both of these objectives, and in doing so will also very significantly improve the position for our acute hospitals."


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