Clear the Health Bottleneck
This morning we heard the news that Ambulances were being held at accident and emergency departments far longer than expected. The example given was at Limerick hospital where ambulances and their crews were being held more than an hour just to discharge a patient into the care of the hospital.
Clearly this is a massive waste of vital ambulance crew time and leaves fewer ambulances on the road to respond to emergencies. Some 8,000 hours per year were reported wasted. There was an immediate call to triple the number of ambulances in the system to make sure response times of 20 minutes can be met.
This lack of joined up thinking in problem solving is why our public services cost us so much more compared to other countries. Typically our first instinct is to treat the symptoms and not the cause. Why triple the ambulances and then have 3 crews waiting an hour to discharge a patient? The problem isn’t the ambulances, the problem is the bottleneck at the hospital A&E. This is where we need to add the resources so the ambulances are free to go in a matter of minutes. Not only n the A&E but in the after care so A&E does not get clogged up.
What this episode also shows is the shambolic planning by the department of health in their rush to rationalise the health service. Limerick A&E is now taking patients that used to go to A&E in Clare and Tipperary but those facilities were closed before Limerick had enough increased capacity to treat and move on the increased number of patients.
Furthermore no account seems to have been taken for the increased distances now being traveled by ambulances to Limerick which would necessitate a slightly larger ambulance service to balance the extra driving time.
It appears in their rush to cut the government is killing the patient.
We urge government to use joined up thinking on this issue and listen to the people who work in the system so that they don’t repeat avoidable planning disasters like this in future.