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Overcrowding could get worse, warns IAEM

The association said these problems continue in spite of the reduction in delayed discharges a known major contributor to ED trolley waits.

“It is therefore of very serious concern to the Association that recent statements by the Department of Health and HIQA indicate that actions will be taken which are likely to significantly worsen the problem and further place the lives of patients at risk,” claims the IAEM.

“The Department of Health has signalled the introduction of a system of fines to penalise hospitals that do not meet scheduled (planned) care targets. Hospital management can only achieve these targets by favouring scheduled care at the expense of unscheduled (emergency) care. This will have the inevitable consequence of making it even more difficult for patients languishing in Emergency Departments (EDs) to get a hospital bed in a timely fashion, increasing mortality, morbidity and length of hospital stay for this group of patients.”

The association also has concerns over intended restrictions that HIQA recently announced long term care institutions or force closure of those it feels provide substandard accommodation.

“While HIQA’s frustration with the HSE’s painfully slow improvement of facilities is understandable, this action will have a very negative impact on ED crowding,” said the association.

“Reduced capacity in long term care will reduce the ability to discharge patients from acute hospitals to these facilities, inevitably causing an increase in numbers of patients forced to wait on hospital trolleys in EDs for increasingly long periods of time.”

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