Mayo Fine Gael TD Michelle Mulherin has welcomed the decision by the HSE to open step-down beds at Ballina District Hospital in order to alleviate the chronic trolley problem at Mayo General, mainly caused by delayed discharges.
However, while this is welcome news, Nursing Homes Ireland (NHI ), the organisation that represents 10 private nursing homes in Mayo, has expressed concern that hospital patients in Mayo are not being informed of their choices upon hospital discharge.
According to NHI, nursing homes in Mayo, of which there are a further three voluntary facilities, have capacity to accommodate the specialist care requirements of persons who have been deemed medically fit to leave hospital, but need step-down care.
NHI told the Mayo Advertiser it is concerned persons awaiting discharge and their relatives are not being informed of their choice of care services which include the county’s nursing homes.
Tadhg Daly, NHI CEO commented: “While it has been reported this week eight beds are to open at Ballina District Hospital to relieve ongoing overcrowding pressures at Mayo General Hospital, NHI members have a significant number of beds that are consistently available to meet the care requirements of persons awaiting discharge from Mayo General. Member homes provide dedicated, specialist care in ‘home from home’ settings in local communities within close proximity to resident relatives and friends.”
Mr Daly continued that HSE West must recognise the critical role private and voluntary nursing homes have to play in alleviating overcrowding in general hospitals and the significant cost savings that will be brought about by utilising these services. According to NHI it costs on average €782 a week for nursing home care in Mayo while Dep Mulherin stated last week that the cost of care in Ballina District Hospital per week is €1,000.
In relation to the Ballina step-down beds Dep Mulherin said she has been informed by HSE management that the decision will be reviewed on a month by month basis depending on the situation at Mayo General which means the step-down beds are not open on a permanent basis for now.
Dep Mulherin said: “This will go a considerable way towards resolving the overflow of patients now at Mayo General, including relieving pressure on A&E. It will help get people off trolleys and into beds for better care. It is one of a number of measures being pursued to address the problems at Mayo General.
“I have been pursuing this matter with the Minister for Health, Dr James Reilly, local HSE and hospital management, in conjunction with the Special Delivery Unit and I am very pleased with this outcome and delighted to see them working together giving a practical response to issues on the ground, even with limited resources. Credit should be given where it's due in that regard. It is also evidence of the Minister's commitment to try to tackle the trolley problem.
“Also this clearly demonstrates the importance of Ballina District Hospital not just locally but in the proper functioning of our hospital and health system in Co Mayo.”