HCCI calls for urgent elder care funding review to free up acute hospital beds
Figures made public today reveal that 31 patients in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital Drogheda and Cavan General Hospital are occupying hospital beds, despite the fact that their acute care has ended and they are medically fit to be discharged. A break down of the figures show that 27 of the patients were in Drogheda while the remaining four were in Cavan General.
Almost 90% of the 31 are elderly patients, over 65, for whom alternative arrangements have not been put in place.
HSE's own figures estimate the cost of a hospital stay per night at €800-€900 amounting to a conservative total cost of at least €24,800 each night the 31 patients remain in hospital, or the equivalent to almost 1,200 hours of home care.
The latest September HSE report also shows that around the country 35 patients have been waiting six months or more to be discharged. Using HSE's own figures this could amount to a cost of over €5,000,000 - over half the proposed €12.5 million cut to home care services recently announced by the HSE.
The main reasons for the delay include people awaiting approval for nursing home care under the Fair Deal scheme, people waiting for home help, a home care package, access to a rehabilitation facility, or equipment from the HSE.
Michael Harty, Co-Chair of Home and Community Care Ireland (HCCI), said,
'The Government needs to urgently overhaul how we fund care for older people, and how people access that care, to give choice back to the patient and encourage a more cost-effective approach based on need and preference. It is blindingly obvious that increasing home care funding to enable faster discharge could save millions each year and free up much needed resources to safeguard frontline services.
'Delayed discharges are just one part of a much wider problem in the existing system which favours the ring-fencing of one type of care over another. The Fair Deal scheme currently accounts for over 70% of the total €1.4 billion budget despite the fact that it is stated government policy and patient's overwhelming preference to remain in the home as long as possible. Not only could improved home care provision speed up discharges, but it could help elderly, dependent people to live longer at home and prevent unnecessary admission in the first place.''
Delayed discharges profile by hospital:
Cavan General Hospital 4 delayed discharges
Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital Drogheda 27 delayed discharges
Other hospitals in Dublin North East Region
Beaumont Hospital 89 delayed discharges
Connolly Hospital- Blanchardstown 53 delayed discharges
Cappagh National Orthopaedic 4 delayed discharges
Mater Misercordiae University Hospital 71 delayed discharges