Delayed discharges cost UHL €5.5 million since 2016

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University Hospital Limerick

SINN Féin TD Maurice Quinlivan has called out the HSE and the Minister for Health for their “failure” to tackle delayed discharges at University Hospital Limerick (UHL), costing the hospital more than €5.5 million since 2016.

According to the Limerick politician, delayed discharge patients are clinically fit for discharge from an acute bed, but because of a lack of home help or a nursing home bed they can’t be discharged.

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“This practice constitutes one of the biggest financial wastes in the health service and has cost the health service nearly €600 million since 2016,” Deputy Quinlivan commented.

“Hundreds of millions is being wasted unnecessarily by keeping these patients in acute hospital beds. Delayed discharges also keep sick patients out of beds and further delays care, is a contributory factor to Emergency Department overcrowding, it adversely affects patient flow throughout the hospital, and it is incredibly unfair on the patients who are ready to be discharged.”

Deputy Quinlivan went on to claim that since the beginning of 2017, 6,466 bed days have been lost in University Hospital Limerick due to delayed discharges, costing the hospital €5,546,556.

 “So far this year 2,060 bed days have been lost in University Hospital Limerick due to delayed discharges. It costs the health service €878 to run a hospital bed per day, so these bed days have cost University Hospital Limerick over €1.8 million so far this year, just to keep patients in beds who are ready to go home.

“This has been going on for years, last year, when the cost of a hospital bed per day was €856 per day, 2,426 bed days were lost, meaning the it cost UHL over €2 million. This state of affairs makes the HSE penny-wise and pound-foolish policy of freezing home help hours even more bizarre. Simon Harris and Paul Reid should be focusing on tackling this issue which costs the HSE close to €200 million each year,” he concluded.

A response from UL Hospitals Group stated that longstanding and ongoing collaboration between acute and community sectors continues to ensure that the Mid-West performs well in terms of delayed discharges.

“In absolute terms and per head of population, patients in the Mid-West are less likely than anywhere else in the country to experience a delayed discharge from hospital. Any reasonable analysis of the national data demonstrates this. At any point in time over the period in question, University Hospital Limerick accounts for approximately one per cent of the total bed days lost through delayed discharges in the country.”