Delayed discharges cost University Hospital Limerick €5.5m since 2016 

Delayed discharges cost University Hospital Limerick €5.5m since 2016 

Deputy Maurice Quinlivan

A LIMERICK TD has called out the HSE and the Minister for Health for their failure to tackle delayed discharges at University Hospital Limerick, a failure which has cost the hospital €5,546,556 since 2016.

Maurice Quinlivan, Sinn Féin, said: “Delayed discharge patients are clinically fit for discharge from an acute bed, but because of a lack of home help or a nursing home bed they can't be discharged - this practice constitutes one biggest financial wastes in the health service and has cost the health service nearly €600 million since 2016.

“Hundreds of millions is being wasted unnecessarily by keeping these patients in acute hospital beds.

“Delayed discharges also keep sick patients out of beds and further delays care, is a contributory factor to Emergency Department overcrowding, it adversely affects patient flow throughout the hospital, and it is incredibly unfair on the patients who are ready to be discharged,”he added. 

“It costs the health service €878 to run a hospital bed per day, so these bed days have cost University Hospital Limerick over €1.8 million so far this year, just to keep patients in beds who are ready to go home,” says the TD.

“This has been going on for years, last year, when the cost of a hospital bed per day was €856 per day, 2,426 bed days were lost, meaning the it cost UHL over €2 million.

“This state of affairs makes the HSE penny wise and pound-foolish policy of freezing home help hours even more bizarre.

“Simon Harris and Paul Reid should be focusing on tackling this issue which costs the HSE close to €200 million each year.”

A UHL spokesperson has said: “In absolute terms and per head of population, patients in the MidWest are less likely than anywhere else in the country to experience a delayed discharge from hospital. Any reasonable analysis of the national data demonstrates this. At any point in time over the period in question, University Hospital Limerick accounts for approximately 1% of the total bed days lost through delayed discharges in the country.

“The deficits in acute bed capacity in the MidWest are acknowledged by all parties. In view of this, UL Hospitals Group has focused on making the most efficient use of its existing bedstock and by ensuring patients are not kept in hospital when they are ready to move on to the next stage of their care or to go home.

“UL Hospitals Group has for a number of years now had the shortest average length of stay for both medical and surgical patients. Our readmission rates for both medical and surgical patients are the lowest in the county and well within the national targets.

“The Group also reduces time spent in  hospital by ensuring suitable elective surgical patients are admitted on the day of their procedure. Last year, the national target for Day of Surgery Admission (DoSA) was 81.7%. UL Hospitals Group achieved 91.4%.

“Through its OPAT service (providing antibiotics to suitable patients at home and in the community), the Group saved 2,198 bed days in 2018 and a further 1,458 to date this year (Jan-July inclusive).”

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