Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Questions (1118)

Eoin Ó Broin


1118. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Health the steps he taking regarding the waiting times and trolley waits in Tallaght Hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20120/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I wish to acknowledge the distress overcrowded Emergency Departments (EDs) cause to patients, their families and frontline staff working in very challenging working conditions in hospitals throughout the country.

The hospital system is currently operating at close to full capacity. The number of patients attending Emergency Departments continues to increase year on year, with approximately 1.3 million attendances in 2018, up 3.5% on 2017. This reflects increasing demand for unscheduled care, especially by patients in the 75 years and over age group. Patients in this age group are the highest users of most health and social care services, have more complex needs and longer stays in our acute hospitals.

The Health Service Capacity Review 2018 recommended an increase in acute hospitals beds of 2,600 by 2031 to support the projected increase in demand for services in the years ahead. Increasing capacity is a priority for this Government and the National Development Plan provides for the full 2,600 recommended beds by the earlier date of 2027.

Steady progress is being made in increasing Bed Capacity with the number of available inpatient beds expected to increase to above 11,000 following the investment planned in the National Service Plan 2019.

The HSE Capacity Programme for 2019 provides for the following increases in capacity, as set out in the National Service Plan 2019:

- 78 additional beds, including a 40-bed modular build in South Tipperary General Hospital, a 30-bed ward in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital Drogheda, 4 HDU beds in the Mater Hospital, and 4 HDU beds in Cork University Hospital;

- 75 acute beds and 70 community beds to come on stream in 2019 as part of the Winter Plan 2018/19, which includes 6 new inpatient beds that have opened in Tallaght University Hospital, and 40 step-down beds due to open in Mount Carmel in Q2 2019;

- preparation of 202 beds by Quarter 4 2019 with a view to bringing this extra capacity into operation in the first quarter of 2020.

The Winter Plan 2018/2019 also included a 4-week enhanced focus period from 17 December 2018 to 13 January 2019, which targeted 9 sites of concern with enhanced measures designed to reduce ED overcrowding and improve patient flow. The sites targeted with enhanced measures included Tallaght University Hospital.

The HSE advise that it is currently undertaking a review of performance across all Hospital Groups and Community Health Organisations (CHO's) over the winter period. This review will consider planning, implementation, and performance at Group and CHO level and will have a particular emphasis on the focus sites.