Current demand for hospital beds exceeds available capacity

AS INSTANCES of influenza and hospital overcrowding continue, Tallaght Hospital has recorded a 25 per cent increase in the number of patients requiring admission in recent days.

According to figures provided to The Echo, the local health facility, which has one of the largest A&E departments in the country, has experienced a 12 per cent increase in the number of people presenting to A&E when compared with figures for the same period last year.

Tallaght hospital 6


There has also been a 44 per cent increase in patients requiring urgent or semi-urgent care, which is reflected in the 25 per cent increase in the number of patients requiring admission to hospital.

Nationally, the number of patients on trolleys has increased significantly in recent weeks, with 551 people lying on trolleys countrywide on Wednesday, January 10.

Locally this week, Tallaght Hospital had 18 patients on trolleys on Monday, 19 on Tuesday and 29 on Wednesday.

In a statement to The Echo, a spokesman for Tallaght Hospital said: “While increased attendance is a seasonal occurrence, population growth and significant demographic change in our catchment [area] means we are seeing a rapid accelerated increase in demand for adult Emergency Department (ED) services and greater complexity in the cases presenting, year on year.

“ED attendance by persons over 75 years has increased by 44 per cent since 2012.

“These patients tend to have more complex care requirements and a high proportion (50 per cent) need admission and on average have double the length of stay than patients less than 75 years.

“Amongst this cohort of patients alone, it has created demand for an additional 35 beds every day, in a hospital that was already at full capacity more than five years ago.”

According to the hospital, adult ED attendances exceeded 50,000 in 2017, an increase of almost 8,400 (20 per cent) since 2012.

Since undergoing a major expansion of the A&E department in 2015, the hospital has recruited additional nursing and NCHD staff and introduced a number of new processes to assist in the better management of patients.

The hospital spokesman continued: “However, it is clear that current demand for beds exceeds the hospital’s current available capacity and there is a clear underlying requirement to develop additional onsite bed capacity.

“We are currently in discussions with the HSE to develop a new 72 single bed facility at the hospital to address these additional capacity requirements.

“The Hospital awaits the outcome of the Department of Health bed capacity review.”

He added: “We apologise for any delays in waiting times as patients in the Emergency Department are prioritised according to clinical need and would ask the public to attend their GP in the first instance where appropriate.”

Tallaght Hospital last week introduced restricted visiting hours to help protect patients from high levels of influenza in the community.

According to the hospital, restrictions have been introduced in the interest of “protecting” patients, many of whom may be vulnerable to infections like the flu.

Restrictions include no visitors younger than 12-years-old and the limitation of only one visitor per patient at a time.

Anybody with flu-like symptoms (fever, chills, sore throat, body aches, headaches etc.) are advised to remain at home and to consider “the welfare” of patients.

Thanking the community for its “understanding and co-operation”, Tallaght Hospital confirmed that restrictions do not impact on out-patient appointments.

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