Lack of facilities results in more sick on trolleys

By Mary Dennehy

A LACK of isolation facilities resulted in an increase in the number of patients on trolleys in Tallaght University Hospital last week, The Echo has learned.

The local health facility had 35 patients on trolleys on Tuesday 11, a number which increased to 40 on Wednesday, June 12.

Tallaght Hospital 03 1

Tallaght University Hospital experienced an increase of patients on trolleys

The figures, provided by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), listed Tallaght University Hospital (TUH) among the top three worst-hit hospitals nationwide on both days.

In recent times, TUH has not featured among the worst-hit hospitals due to a series of in-house initiatives introduced which has seen a reduction in trolley numbers of over 40 per cent in the first five months of this year.

However, a lack of isolation facilities caused last week’s spike, a situation which has re-enforced hospital management calls for a new 72-bed, isolation unit on site.

In a statement to The Echo, a spokesperson for TUH said that from January to May of this year, attendances to the hospital’s A&E department were up by four per cent when compared with the same period in 2018.

However, “pro-active steps” taken by the hospital has seen a reduction in trolley numbers of over 40 per cent when compared with the first five months of last year.

“Increased attendance is now a year round reality facing all hospitals rather than a specific winter period,” the hospital spokesperson said.

“With population growth and significant demographic changes, TUH in particular is seeing a rapid accelerated increase in demand for adult ED services.

“It regrettably remains the case that current demand for beds exceeds the hospital’s available capacity.

“As a result, patients who need to be admitted start their medical treatment in ED and may experience a delay in moving to a ward.”

More than two years ago, The Echo spoke with then TUH CEO David Slevin about hospital management plans to increase bed capacity – with Mr Slevin building a case for a new 72-bed unit on campus.

All rooms would also be isolation units, a feature which will support the hospital when dealing with outbreaks, including the winter vomiting bug or CRE.

This week, the hospital spokesperson confirmed that the case for additional beds at Tallaght is still on the agenda.

“The recent increase in trolley numbers were due to a lack of isolation facilities but the hospital in conjunction with the HSE is conducting a cost-benefit analysis to develop 72 single in-patient rooms,” the spokesperson said.

“[These rooms] would greatly assist in meeting the increasing requirement for isolation facilities and see trolley numbers decrease significantly.”

In addition to a lack of bed capacity, the hospital told The Echo that it continues to experience significant challenges with delayed discharges, with some patients who are medically fit to be discharged having nowhere to go or who are awaiting home-care supports.

“We apologise for any delays in waiting times as patients in the ED are prioritised according to clinical need,” the spokesperson said.

“The hospital does not wish for any in-patient to be cared for on a trolley and works continuously to free beds for admitted patients.

“We continue to ask for co-operation from the public to attend their GP in the first instance where appropriate.”

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