Dáil Éireann - Volume 662 - 30 September, 2008
Written Answers. - Accident and Emergency Services.
Deputy Joe McHugh Deputy Joe McHugh
Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans to address the ongoing problem of patients on trolleys in accident and emergency departments; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32313/08]
Deputy Mary Harney Deputy Mary Harney
Deputy Mary Harney: There have been considerable improvements in the delivery of services in Emergency Departments over the past two years. For example, there has been a reduction in the average daily number of patients awaiting admission from 179 in 2005 to 92 in 2007. The figure for the first five months of 2008 was 99. National data was unavailable since early June because of industrial action taken by IMPACT. The industrial action was suspended last week and national data is again available. The average daily number for the four day period 26 September-29 September was 69. Outstanding difficulties are largely confined to a number of major hospitals and the HSE is working closely with these hospitals to bring about further improvements.
Hospitals need to improve their admission and discharge processes, to ensure that people are appropriately admitted and that their care is efficiently managed, both during their hospital stay and their follow up care in the community. Steps are being taken to ensure that patients have an expected date of discharge within 24 hours of admission, that patients can be discharged in a more proactive manner at weekends and that communication between the hospital system and primary care services is improved. Implementation of a new Code of Practice on Discharge Planning is to commence shortly across the country. This should help to deliver further improvements in overall bed utilisation.
I believe that setting clear targets for improvement and measuring performance against these targets helps to drive further improvements in services. The HSE has already introduced a target waiting time of no more than 12 hours from decision to admit for patients attending Emergency Departments. The intention is to move towards a lower target of no more than 6 hours from decision to admit in line with the recommendation of the Emergency Department Task Force report. The HSE is also starting to collect information on the average waiting time of patients attending Emergency Departments, irrespective of whether the person is admitted or not. I am committed to building on the progress made in recent years. Improving services for patients attending Emergency Departments will continue to be a top priority for the Government.
Dáil Éireann 662 Written Answers. Accident and Emergency Services.