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OPINION: Record number of beds blocked

September 1st, 2019 10:40 PM

By Southern Star Team

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A SURVEY carried out by Nursing Homes Ireland (NHI) revealed that, while beds in its members’ premises across the country were lying idle, the number of hospital ‘bed blockers’ had reached another new unwanted HSE record of 746.

These are patients who – through no fault of their own – are occupying beds in acute hospitals and, even though they no longer need medical care, cannot be discharged without supports. Meanwhile, sick people are waiting on trolleys in corridors at emergency departments for beds to become available so that they can get the medical care they need.

The snapshot NHI survey found that a slowdown in the release of funding in the Fair Deal scheme has led to increasingly-longer delays in transferring patients to nursing homes to receive either short-term transitional or long-term care. The €999m provided for the scheme in 2019 is designed to support 23,042 people at any one time and, while it may sound simplistic – upsetting even – the harsh reality is that they have to wait for people to die to free up places.

According to the HSE, the current waiting list for a nursing home among people approved for Fair Deal funding is 800. With an increasing older population and people living longer, it is clear that the budget allocation will have to be upped exponentially to meet the demand.

In the meantime, the logjam of ‘bed blockers’ needs to be tackled urgently.

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