Two people were on trollies waiting for beds at Letterkenny General Hospital on Thursday, but Donegal North East TD Charlie McConalogue said the drop has come at the expense of scheduled surgeries.
The hospital, along with others across the country has been experiencing huge numbers waiting on trollies in recent weeks and 31 people were waiting for beds on Tuesday as the emergency department was “extremely busy.”
The HSE claimed the increase was due a “spike” in the level of activity and the dependency level of patients presenting or who are already in hospital.
Speaking to the Journal yesterday, Deputy McConalogue said while a drop in the numbers waiting on bed was positive, this was in many ways due to the fact that all scheduled operations have been cancelled at the hospital in response to the beds crisis.
He said: “Hundreds of people were awaiting their operations. That’s not going to happen now and the operations are postponed. Meanwhile, the waiting list gets longer and longer.”
Deputy McConalogue said that the hospital cannot access sufficient frontline medical staff, which is making the current staff’s work more challenging.
He said: “The staff have to be credited for their hard work over the past few weeks. The pressure should be reduced on them, not increased.In terms of nursing staff, if someone goes on maternity leave they are not being replaced. These hospitals need more step-down beds, hospital beds and frontline medical staff to treat the increasing numbers of patients.”
Deputy McConalogue is supporting a Fianna Fail Dáil motion next week, which is demanding Government action, including an increase in beds and staff, to address overcrowding.They also want the number of beds funded under the Nursing Homes Support Scheme to be restored to at least the level supported in 2013.”
He said the Government failed to “adequately prepare” for a crisis which they “knew would happen” and were warned it would be the result of cuts to key services.
He said the cuts to the Fair Deal Scheme, home help supports and hospital budgets also led to the crisis.
He said: “Through the back-end of last year, there were significant delays in people getting approved for the Fair Deal nursing scheme. Nationally, there were 80 patients in the Mater Hospital waiting to be discharged, which then causes backlogs for hospitals who have people waiting on surgeries to be carried out. They can’t schedule them as they haven’t the beds. There are 3,000 people on the general surgery waiting list in Letterkenny General Hospital and that’s not good enough.