Fine Gael Health and Children Spokesperson, Dr Liam Twomey TD, has said that if the Government is serious about making real improvements to the lot of patients in A&E it should adopt Fine Gael and Labour’s proposals in its forthcoming Budget. Dr Twomey said that in particular the alternative Government was proposing investment in 1,500 step down facilities to free up acute beds and the development of 15 Urgent Care Centres to provide an alternative to A&E.
“This Government has consistently failed to make a difference to A&E because it has failed to recognise that bed capacity and the placing of patients in inappropriate beds is at its heart. The occupation of acute beds by patients who no longer need acute care creates the bottleneck that sees hundreds of patients on trolleys in A&E awaiting admission. Similarly the admission of these patients to day case beds when trolley numbers are high is leading to the wholesale cancellation of elective procedures, with recent figures showing 22,000 such operations cancelled across the country.
“Fine Gael, along with our colleagues in Labour, has proposed the provision of 1,500 step down beds with at least 600 in Dublin. These beds will be a mixture of convalescent beds for short duration stays, rehabilitation beds for intensive rehabilitation to improve the patient’s quality of life and long-term continuous care beds. This measure will free up acute beds and relieve the pressure on A&E departments.
“In tandem with this and in recognition of the fact that 75% of patients who present at A&E do not actually require acute care we will provide an alternative to A&E through the development of 15 Urgent Care Centres, with three in Dublin. These centres, staffed by GPs, nurses and backup staff, will be open out of hours and treat relatively minor medical and surgical problems.
“Fine Gael’s proposals are a prime example of the kind of joined-up thinking which is absent from the heart of this Government. That is why, after 10 years of power, billions spent and millions wasted, they will never succeed in making improvements by clinging to their own failed, bankrupt policies. Instead, they should adopt the cost-effective, commonsense measures proposed by Fine Gael and Labour.”