Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley has highlighted the need to address capacity issues in local Emergency Departments.
Speaking in the Dail, he has also spoke about the need for more step-down beds and the expansion of homecare services.
Figures released to Sinn Féin show that 497 people left Portlaoise Emergency Department (ED) between January and March 2023 without being treated.
In Tullamore, 546 people left the ED without being treated between January and March this year.
Deputy Stanley said: “The reality is we have 888,000 people on hospital waiting lists, record waiting times, record numbers of people leaving emergency departments without treatment. We got the figures this week on it.
“These are alarming figures. This is despite the best efforts of the front-line staff in the emergency departments of both Tullamore and Portlaoise.
“The trolley scandal the Government pledged to end is now worse than ever. It used to be January and into February but now it has become an all-year-round threat to patient safety.
“We need an immediate increase of 1,000 hospital beds with a total of 2,500 additional beds required over the next couple of years, according to the Economic and Social Research Institute, ESRI.
“One solution I have persistently put forward is the need to improve discharge times. To do this, we need to increase step-down capacity to free up beds in the acute hospitals.
“In Portlaoise, between January and March this year, we lost 671 bed days due to the delayed discharges compared with 506 for the same period in 2021.
“It has become worse because we do not have the step-down and community care services. The situation in Portlaoise has deteriorated.
“While the bed days lost in the same period in Tullamore have shown a reduction over the two years, which we welcome, there are still 428 days lost in that three-month period. That is too many days lost.
“These figures underline the ongoing scandal of the 12 step-down beds that were supposed to be delivered in the Abbeyleix Hospital and that are still not opened.
“I raised this last week with Mr. Bernard Gloster, the Chief Executive Officer of the HSE, and impressed on him the importance of doing this. Anything the Minister of State can do to push that forward will be welcome. We need to free up these step-down beds.
“Also delaying discharges is the lack of home care packages. People who are ready to be discharged cannot leave because they do not have a home care worker. We need to fix that situation.
“The health services can be fixed but it needs a Government and a Minister with the political will to do so.
“Sinn Féin believes that we need to drive on the reforms contained in Sláintecare, increase bed capacity and hold the health services to account.
“We need to bring a proper pipeline of workers and train and retain an increased number of those critical healthcare staff. We must increase capacity.”
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