A patient in Cork has spent four months longer in Cork University Hospital (CUH) than expected because the HSE refuses to fund his ongoing rehabilitation in another facility, it has been revealed.
Thurles man Darragh Stakelum (29), who lost his sight three years ago, has been in CUH since December having been diagnosed with a brain tumour.
Following extensive treatment in CUH, which ended four months ago, he was expected to move on to an acute brain injury residential rehabilitation centre in Waterford to continue his rehabilitation.
However, TD Jackie Cahill (FF) has said the HSE refuses to pay the €153,000 annual sum for Mr Stakelum’s care in Waterford.
The health service spent almost €140,000 to keep Mr Stakelum, who has represented Ireland in blind golf, in CUH over the past four months alone - a cost of around €1,200 per day, according to Deputy Cahill.
He added that this sort of delayed discharge indicates the need for the HSE to review how its budget is allocated and spent.
Delayed discharges stood at more than 470 at the end of December last year, with 16,623 bed days lost as a result.
“I’ve been told the budget for brain injury recovery for 2019 has been exhausted by the HSE,” Deputy Cahill told The Echo.
“Therefore, the HSE is refusing to pay for this young man’s care in Waterford.
“Instead, they’ve spent almost the same amount keeping him on a bed in CUH which he no longer needs,” he added.
“This really shows the gross inefficiency in how the health budget is allocated and spent.
“HSE officials have told me that they’ve been instructed by their superiors not to go over budget at any cost and Darragh is now paying the price for that because the budget allocated for his care is gone but the hospital bed one is not.” Mr Stakelum underwent an MRI scan last week which came back clear and he, and his family, are now keen to continue his recovery at the Waterford clinic.
“There’s no more that can be done for him at CUH,” said Deputy Cahill.
“He is becoming more depressed and agitated as time goes on and he needs to be transferred to Waterford so that he can recover and eventually return home.”
The Tipperary TD explained that Mr Stakelum had been living an ordinary life in Tipperary with his partner, in a council house adapted and located to suit his needs.
“Now he has been in hospital since a few days before Christmas and has been there for months when he doesn’t need to be.
“One day last week, there was 51 patients awaiting a bed at CUH and here was this young man on one he didn’t need.
“The HSE need to use their resources more efficiently to ensure people can leave hospital when they no longer need acute care and that much needed beds are made available,” he added.
“I’ve raised the issue with Minister for Health Simon Harris and I’m hopeful he can step in and resolve it because this cannot continue.”