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IAEM welcomes HSE memo on delayed transfers of care

By Reporter - 02nd Nov 2023


The Irish Association for Emergency Medicine (IAEM) has welcomed what it described as an “important” memorandum issued by the HSE on delayed transfers of care.

In a statement the Association said the new memorandum  “can improve bed availability at our acute hospitals and reduce the duration of time patients spend” in emergency departments, awaiting an inpatient bed.

The IAEM outlined that the issue involves patients who have completed hospital treatment for their acute illness and are deemed ready to be discharged from the acute hospital to a transitional care or long term care bed in a nursing home.

Often these are older adults who cannot safely be discharged directly to their own home.

“Problems can arise when the long term care facility preferred by the patient or the family of the patient is not immediately available,” the Association explained in its statement.

The IAEM stated that the new memorandum “emphasised that at all times the HSE wants to respect patient and public choice and self-determination, however…[according to the memorandum] what is available may have to be accepted while a patient’s choice is awaited.”

The Association said that statistics show that that for every 82 patients who are delayed more than six hours in an emergency department to get to an inpatient bed, “there is an excess death”.

“It is unconscionable that a patient who needs an inpatient bed for acute treatment is unable to go to one because the bed in the acute hospital is being used for a patient who could have their care needs met elsewhere,” said the Association.

“Given the shortage of acute hospital beds in Ireland it is simply not feasible to allow these beds be used for patients who do not need the services of an acute hospital and who could be managed safely in a nursing home or community hospital facility.”

IAEM added that investment “in extra bed capacity in our hospitals and in the community healthcare setting is vital”.

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