GREATER investment in emergency departments (EDs) and enhanced community care in addition to quicker discharge times are needed to tackle waiting times for ambulances outside hospitals to transfer patients, the country’s Health Minister has said.
Stephen Donnelly made the remarks while speaking to reporters following a visit to the Cork Kerry Community Healthcare Integrated Care Hub for older people based at St Finbarr’s Health Campus in recent days.
When asked about delays for ambulance personnel waiting outside hospitals to transfer patients the Minister said: “It’s exactly why we have to invest not just in the emergency departments (EDs) but in the preventative arm, which is the older persons and the enhanced community care, but critically as well in discharge.”
Mr Donnelly said in hospitals around the country, “there are often as many people waiting to be discharged as there are people on trolleys waiting to go in”.
During his visit to Cork, the Minister visited Mercy University Hospital and Cork University Hospital.
Mr Donnelly spoke of the need to “build capacity” in hospitals in the event of future waves of Covid-19.
“In the Mercy yesterday, for example, several of their isolation rooms were empty but they were there in case Covid patients came in.
“I think we have to take Covid very seriously, I think we have to accept that it’s the biggest disruption in healthcare probably in the history of the State, in about 100 years.
“Critically we have to build capacity such that, if there are future waves of Covid, they can be accommodated,” he said.