The IHCA has called on the Government to publish “sustainable plans” to treat patients with chronic conditions on time, as part of a long-term vision for investment in public hospital capacity and staffing.
Dr Laura Durcan, a Consultant Rheumatologist at Beaumont Hospital and IHCA member, said that as attention is concentrated on trying to tackle waiting times to access care, the system lacks the inpatient capacity, outpatient facilities, consultants and other medical staff.
“We put a really big spotlight on the waiting lists, which I think is completely valid. But we also need to put some energy into seeing where the capacity is within the system for those people to be provided with chronic care,” says Dr Durcan.
To ensure continuity of care over time, she said that additional outpatient facilities are urgently needed.
“In my case, if somebody phones me and says that they need to see me, I have no physical space in which to do that. I have an outpatient department where I have so many hours for certain appointments, but increasingly going forward the specialties that provide ongoing chronic care for patients will need additional space in which to do that,” she said
“We need additional dedicated capacity within outpatient units to see patients as needed – and part of that is bricks and mortar.”
She said that “Ireland is a massive outlier internationally in terms of our number of acute beds per head of population”.
“It’s really horrible to be in a situation where you are constantly squeezing people closer to the door because there is no bed capacity within your hospital.
“It is absolutely a requirement – we have to have more beds, so that the people who are sick can be looked after in a compassionate way,” says Dr Durcan.
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