28 PATIENTS are still occupying beds at University Hospital Limerick (UHL), despite the fact that they have been clinically discharged from the hospital.
Two of those patients have been discharged for more than six months, yet remain in hospital.
That’s according to data received in response to a parliamentary question by Aontú Limerick representative Sarah Beasley which shows that UHL has the highest number of patients discharged from any Irish hospital but unable to leave.
“A total of 26 patients in UHL have been discharged in the past six months with a further two patients having been discharged over six months ago. There are also patients in Nenagh, Ennis and St John’s who have been discharged but are unable to leave.
“My understanding is that part of the problem here is the lack of home-help hours available due to staffing shortages in that sector,” Ms Beasley explained.
“I’ve had personal knowledge of this when a family member could not be discharged until the home-help package, for which she qualified, had been put in place. In that instance, we had to wait as the hospital scrambled to secure hours, liaising with multiple different agencies, and eventually patching together a complicated compilation of agencies in the one package.”
The staff shortages, she pointed out, are undoubtedly caused by poor pay within the sector, on the part of some agencies.
“Aontú asked the Department of Health how much the State was paying per hour to private agencies for home help, and they came back to me with a figure of €27.12. Clearly some of the private agencies are creaming a significant profit here, while the workers on the frontline are not being paid well. We need complete reform of our healthcare system.
“The HSE should directly employ home care workers, pay them better than the private companies are paying them, and have one centralised system in the county rather than the current convoluted mess. In the long run this would save us money, because the private companies wouldn’t be eating a profit from the public purse.
“If we could find a prompt and effective solution to out home-help and respite services, we could ensure that people who have been discharged from hospital are able to go home. Achieving this would immediately free up a significant number of beds in the hospitals,” Ms Beasley concluded.