IAEM laments lack of progress on Emergency Department crowding
It is deeply disappointing that 3 months after the release of the much heralded Emergency Department Task Force Report 2015, ED crowding is getting worse rather than better. Month-onmonth, the number of patients on trolleys awaiting hospital admission continues to rise compared with 2014 and this phenomenon is continuing into the summer. Every year, apologists for ED crowding suggest that it is ‘a winter event’ that rights itself as the year proceeds; nothing could be further from the truth.
In spite of promises that the number of delayed discharges would be reduced substantially, the number continues at an unacceptable level and this contributes significantly to large numbers of genuinely sick patients not being able to access a hospital bed while those whose acute care is complete remain in acute hospital beds. This can only be described as a perversion of how a health system should function.
In addition, it must be obvious to all at this stage that there is a bed capacity problem both in Acute Hospitals and in Community Services where there are not enough beds to meet the appropriate care needs of patients. This shortage of capacity is exacerbated by increasingly onerous targets for the completion of elective surgery. While IAEM recognises the need for and importance of elective surgery, there needs to be a clear public recognition by those (political and managerial) who oversee the Health Service that there is insufficient capacity to allow both scheduled and unscheduled care continue safely. There is an urgent need to address this bed capacity shortage yet nothing is being done.
The persistent infringement on the human rights of patients who are forced to remain for long periods of time on hospital trolleys after they have received their Emergency Care should be a major concern to those responsible for running our Health Service. To date however, there has been little coherent and consistent effort to solve this worsening problem which we know causes death and poorer medical outcomes for our friends, relations and citizens.