PATIENTS are being discharged from a new 60-bed block unit at University Hospital Limerick (UHL) without adequate planning for step down supports, a local deputy has claimed.
Deputy Cathal Crowe is calling on the HSE to ensure that an official discharge co-ordinator is put in place for the new 60-bed block.
At present, the role is not filled for the €19.5 million modular unit at UHL, which began taking patients in late 2020 and hospital management have no plans to appoint a new person to this post.
“I have been raising the issue of a lack of a discharge co-ordinator for this block both in the Oireachtas Health Committee and with Colette Cowan, CEO of the UL Hospitals’ Group,” said Deputy Crowe.
“Several families of patients and workers in the system have been in contact with me highlighting the fact that where a patient is being discharged, there’s very little in terms of stepdown planning for having supports in place – public health nurses, access to community health centres, occupational therapists and home help.
“Basically, the discharge happens without the ancillary supports fully being in place.
“Colette Cowan has outlined to me that a number of professionals are in place to facilitate the discharge in a smooth fashion but the fact remains that there isn’t a co-ordinator role there and I have been pushing Paul Reid of the HSE to fill this vacancy as quickly as possible.
“The new 60 bed unit is hugely welcome in the region and is helping to alleviate pressures on the health system, but it must be synchronised with the other levels of healthcare in the region.”
Once a patient who is well enough to leave hospital environment but not well enough to go home unsupported, he stressed that an effective plan is in place for them and that a discharge coordinator will be the one to fill that role and be responsible for facilitating such a plan.
He called on the HSE to prioritise this appointment to provide the final piece in making this new facility a success.
The group confirmed there is no plan to hire an additional discharge co-ordinator for the 60-bed block at UHL.
A group spokesman outlined a number of supports are in place onsite at UHL to support discharges, including an assistant director public health nurse, a public health nurse, a community occupational therapist, a Fair Deal Scheme coordinator and a dedicated staff nurse who works on discharge coordination.
The assistant director public health nurse, the public health nurse as well as the community occupational therapist currently work with Mid-West Community Healthcare to manage discharges back into the community.
Patient flow in UHL is currently supporting the discharge planning function for the 60-bed block.