Local T.D. Seán Crowe, has criticised the Health Service Executive (HSE) and the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, for their failure to tackle delayed discharges in hospitals, as inept and lacking in oversight. The delays have cost the health service, and by extension Irish taxpayers, nearly €600 million since 2016. The TD described Minister Harris and HSE as the real bed blockers, not the poor patient who is forced to overstay because of the government’s disastrous policies and a lack of supports. Deputy Crowe said: “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. This practice constitutes one of the biggest financial wastes in the health service and has cost the health service nearly €600 million since 2016.

“Hundreds of millions of Irish tax payers money is being wasted unnecessarily by keeping these patients in an acute hospital bed setting. This overspend highlights Minister Harris’ ineptitude when it comes to tax payers hard earned money. “Delayed discharges also keep sick patients out of beds and further delays care. This 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. “Since the start of this year an incredible 6,152 bed days have been lost in Tallaght University Hospital due to delayed discharges. It costs the health service €878 to run a hospital bed per day, so it has cost Tallaght University Hospital €5,401,456 to date in 2019 just to unnecessarily keep patients who can be discharged in hospital beds.

“This has been going on for years. Last year, when the cost of a hospital bed per day was €856 per day, 13,887 bed days were lost in Tallaght University Hospital, meaning that it cost the hospital €11,887,272. “This approach highlights ineptness, and a lack of oversight and forward planning. The fault lies squarely with Minister Harris and senior executives at the HSE. “Their policy of cutting home help supports denies patients a discharge with home help or step-down supports. This is upsetting and frustrating for families and patients who are then described by that awful term, bed blockers. “Minister Harris and HSE are the real bed blockers, not the poor patient who is forced to overstay because of the government’s disastrous policies and a lack of supports.”