“Over 600 beds unavailable every day” – Dodds

The Health Minister has confirmed that more than six hundred patients per day are having to remain in hospital despite no longer needing to be there.

By Diane Dodds MLA

Upper Bann

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Upper Bann DUP Assembly Member Diane Dodds has responded:

“The figures from the Minister show that 628 patients had to needlessly stay on in hospital on 15th March despite the decision having been taken that they were fit to leave. The real figure will be higher as some of the Trusts had only calculated the beds on their largest acute sites. This is now well into Spring, when the annual surge of winter respiratory cases will have subsided.

More than six hundred hospital beds being unavailable is the equivalent of keeping the doors locked to one of our large acute hospitals. It is an absolute travesty. It must be enormously frustrating for anyone awaiting admission to hospital for treatment to know there ought to be several hundred more beds available every day.

There are problems in our public services that are incredibly tricky and require a high level of complexity to try to fix, but this ought not to be one of them. Someone needs to be put in charge of resolving this immediately, much like Patricia Donnelly oversaw our the Covid vaccination roll-out. This ought to be an utmost priority for the Department of Health.

Our hospital staff are being forced to go in to work each morning with one arm tied behind their back, or like a football team that is always a couple of goals down before the game starts. I struggle to understand, when the impact is so significant, why this hasn’t been prioritised more. It ought to be a key objective to free up more capacity and allow the system to operate optimally.

The loss of beds impacts back onto all parts of the system including waiting times, Emergency Departments and getting admitted into hospital. It is poor care too for those patients being kept on in hospital unnecessarily. Many argue we don’t have enough beds in Northern Ireland the first place, and we certainly can’t afford not to be utilising more than 600 of those that we do have.

I recognise that there can be difficulties finding placements for individuals, but this issue needs to be gripped from the centre rather than simply allowed to continue. It is not acceptable. A dedicated team devoted to resolving this in short order could provide holistic solutions. It is a straightforward opportunity to transform hospital provision. For anyone looking in from the outside or from any other walk of life, it is a simple means of making a fundamental impact on the efficiency of the system.

If you pause to think what could be achieved over the course of a year with that number of beds, it is out of the question for this to be allowed to go on any longer”.

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