BY EMMA CONNOLLY
CLONAKILTY Community Hospital is leading the way in solving the national trolley crisis by giving beds to low-risk patients from Cork University Hospital, to free up space for more urgent cases.
A total of 12 new transitional care beds opened in Clonakilty this week and are now occupied by patients who no longer require urgent care at CUH, but who are not yet ready for discharge.
The country’s highest trolley figures were recorded in recent days at CUH, with 41 people without a bed last Monday. Scheduled surgery was also recently suspended, over fears caused by overcrowding.
CUH’s Emergency Department treated a total of 3,600 over Christmas, a 10-12% rise on the normal figures for this time of year.
The plan for the West Cork and city hospital to collaborate was first announced last September in The Southern Star by Junior Minister Jim Daly, and now, after its successful local implementation, he wants it replicated in the 120 community hospitals nationwide.
‘Clonakilty is showing how this can work. It’s time for a new way of thinking and this is a simple and workable solution. I believe this initiative should be rolled out nationwide – it would greatly assist in avoiding the current high trolley numbers in our acute hospitals in recent days,’ he said.
The Cork South West TD described as ‘frustrating’ and ‘disappointing’ the perpetual nature of the trolley crisis.
His next step is to meet with the Health Minister and Department of Health senior officials to push the model piloted in Clonakilty, nationally.
He praised the co-operation of the staff of Clonakilty Hospital and the area’s GPs who have stepped up to deliver this plan successfully. Minister Daly said the challenge now is to continue to get patients discharged and keep beds available to CUH for appropriate patients.
He also acknowledged that while capital investment was not needed, a change in the public’s mindset was required.
‘Patients will need a little time to accept that they may continue to convalesce in lower level hospitals,’ he added.
Cork Kerry Community Healthcare said they were delighted to be able to play a part in alleviating the pressure on acute hospitals.