The Special Delivery Unit has a special focus on trolley issues. During October 2011, the SDU wrote to hospitals with the highest numbers waiting on trolleys seeking proposals aimed at reducing those numbers over the critical period of November 2011 to January 2012. A range of measures were approved across 16 hospital sites and funding of €4.85 million was allocated for the purpose with strict performance criteria laid down.
In addition, the SDU put in place arrangements where a staff member was on duty every day over the Christmas and New Year period with each of the 28 EDs in the country submitting update on numbers waiting three times per day. This allowed for close monitoring of hospitals at risk and facilitated quick decision making in relation to corrective action where required. This process will continue during the month of January 2012.
While it is too early for complacency, the signs so far have been very encouraging with significant reductions being recorded nationally in numbers waiting each day when compared with the same period last year. The situation will be closely monitored and the appropriate action will be taken in relation to sites at risk up to and including postponing elective surgery for a short period.
The SDU focused resources on Beaumont and allocated once off funding of over €0.4m to enable it to implement the various initiatives the hospital had identified as being key to alleviating the conditions in the emergency department. These measures included:
Increasing bed capacity through the development of a 31 bedded ward encompassing transit lounge, surge capacity and streaming of delayed discharge patients.
Purchasing assisted discharge care packages.
Provision of rapid access nurse service on seven day a week basis.
Increasing cardiology diagnostics during the week and on Saturdays to enable weekend discharge of patients.
I would also like to advise the Deputy that Beaumont was successful in achieving the objective of having no one waiting over 12 months for inpatient or daycase surgery by December 31st 2011. All except two hospitals reached this target nationally. This work will continue in 2012 to both maintain the 12 month maximum waiting time and to further reduce waiting times by the end of 2012.