We need more public health nurses says Cork TD

In December 2014 there were 1,450 public health nurses and in October 2021 there were 1530, an increase of just 4%
We need more public health nurses says Cork TD

Fine Gael spokesperson for health and Cork North Central TD Colm Burke raised the issue with Secretary-General of the Department of Health Robert Watt and Chief Executive Officer of the HSE Paul Reid at a recent Oireachtas Health Committee meeting.

A Cork TD has raised concerns about the need for more public health nurses as a means to combat high numbers of hospital admissions.

Fine Gael spokesperson for health and Cork North Central TD Colm Burke raised the issue with Secretary-General of the Department of Health Robert Watt and Chief Executive Officer of the HSE Paul Reid at a recent Oireachtas Health Committee meeting.

“If you look at the numbers working in the HSE and working in the health service, it’s gone from 103,000 in December 2014 to 131,000 now so that’s an increase of 27%.

“But if you look at the public health nurses, in December 2014 there were 1,450 public health nurses and in October 2021 there were 1530, an increase of just 4%.

“If you want to keep people out of hospital, the best way of doing that is having adequate backup support out in the community,” Deputy Burke said.

Speaking of one case in particular where an elderly man wound up back in hospital after not being seen by a public nurse in the seven weeks after he was discharged, Deputy Burke said that if there was an adequate amount of public health nurses, there would be less people taking up space in hospital.

“Every other area in healthcare has increased by 27%, from management to nursing staff, to nurse managers, to junior doctors, to consultants. 27% in the last six years but public health nursing has not increased, and I think that's a major question that needs to be asked why.

“It’s the one area that hasn't grown, every other area has grown except public health nursing.” 

The Deputy said he does not accept what he was told at the Oireachtas Health Committee meeting in relation to there being “more people working out in the community”.

'KEY ROLE'

Speaking to The Echo, a spokesperson for Cork Kerry Community Healthcare (CKCH) said: “The public health nursing service consists of registered general nurses, public health nurses, other specialities and has an associated management structure.

“The service has a key role across the age spectrum inclusive of child development; public health; preventative, curative and palliative care nursing. Health and social care professionals within the primary care team are key enablers for hospital discharge and also prevention of admission.

“The public nursing service staffing for Cork Kerry Community Healthcare in 2021 was 362 whole-time posts. The service will have been uplifted within the Enhance Community Healthcare Programme by 37.5 new development posts.

“From the point of view of hospital discharges, the Discharge Coordinators liaise between the acute hospital and longterm residential care facilities in order to ensure timely transfers.

“There are a number of contracted beds in private nursing homes which are accessible directly by the acute hospitals for transitional care.” In addition, the spokesperson said that home care services for the older person, in particular home support, provide a service attending to the personal care needs of clients in the community along with day care services which are operational in Cork city and surrounds with Turner’s Cross opening on Tuesday 19 April.

The spokesperson confirmed that all day care centres in South Lee and North Lee will be operational after April 19.

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