BANTRY General Hospital (BGH) and its urgent care centre was so busy this week that it warned people to stay away unless they were referred directly by their GP.
They made the urgent appeal in the ‘interest of patient safety,’ and reminded people visitor restrictions were in place to curb the spreading of ’flu.
BGH was one of many facilities under pressure, with CUH reporting unprecedented overcrowding and cancelling non-urgent procedures.
It had some of the country’s highest trolley figures this week, with one of its emergency consultants saying that the ‘corridor medicine’ that is being undertaken in overcrowded hospitals is ‘incredibly dangerous.’
A Schull couple caught up in the A&E chaos in CUH said it was even worse than figures suggested.
Helen O’Sullivan said: ‘We arrived at the A&E on Friday, January 3rd at 10pm. My husband was triaged at 10.30pm and was not seen by a doctor until 9.30am on Saturday. The nurses’ station was clearly displaying 84 people waiting for trolleys. But that figure did not include the 20 plus people triaged as urgent cases still waiting in the A&E area.’
She said her husband finally got a bed that night at 10pm. ‘The nursing staff and doctors were fantastic and clearly struggling with an ever-increasing dire situation, but no modern day hospital in 2020 should be operating in such dire conditions.’
Minister of State at the Department of Health, Jim Daly said the delays were caused by the late discharge of patients, and the solution was transitional care beds. He introduced 14 such ‘step down’ beds in Clonakilty in 2018.
‘Without them there would be 14 more people on trolleys in CUH every day,’ he said. Admitting it was frustrating driving change through the health system, he said realistically it would be a few years before the model was replicated in other community hospitals.
However, Nursing Homes Ireland (NHI), headed up by Drimoleague man Tadgh Daly, insisted 2,000 beds were available in private and voluntary nursing homes across the country to allow the timely discharge of patients from acute hospitals to nursing home care.
He said that the ‘disorganised discharge processes’ in hospitals were contributing to hospital delays. And he claimed that nursing homes which had located beds for patients being discharged from hospitals were not being taken up on their offer. And he added that delays in the Fair Deal system were also adding to the delays in hospital discharges.