As the Deputy will be aware, in June 2018, I appointed Graham Knowles, Chairperson of the University of Limerick Hospital Group, to chair a Working Group to carry out an independent expert review of delayed discharges. Delayed discharges result in longer lengths of stay for patients, impact on patient flow and contribute to congestion within the hospital system, including in our Emergency Departments. The purpose of the review was to identify the factors which result in delayed discharges and to identify short to medium term changes to reduce the overall number of delayed discharges in the acute hospital system. I received the Working Group's report in November.
The report made nine recommendations, including the development of a national policy to provide for a more consistent approach to recording delayed discharges, strengthening data collection, standardising definitions and ensuring consistent discharge guidelines. It also recommended a more integrated care approach between hospitals and community services, early discharge pathways to prevent admissions and enable assessment of care needs in the patient’s home or alternative care settings and a public health campaign to raise awareness that patients who are discharged without delay have better outcomes.
It is my intention to advance the recommendations of the review in 2019.