Staff at Letterkenny University Hospital were forced to invoke the top-level Full Capacity Protocol 242 times in the last year, new figures reveal.
These measures are taken when the emergency department is so overcrowded that steps must be taken to identify patients who are appropriate for discharge. During these events, those awaiting admission are warned to expect delays and advised to visit their GPs as their first point of contact.
Figures released by the HSE show that LUH was operating at Full Capacity on more days than not in 2017, which has been labelled as ‘unacceptable’ by Donegal Sinn Féin Senator Pádraig Mac Lochlainn.
Senator Mac Lochlainn said:“The Full capacity protocol is a hospital’s highest level measure for dealing with emergency department overcrowding.
“In essence, it is supposed to be the last stage of escalation under a national framework issued in 2015 to hospitals to deal with overcrowding, meaning that in a properly functioning health service it should be implemented only in exceptional circumstances.
“Yet, according to figures released to Sinn Féin this week, the mechanism was invoked a total of 242 times at Letterkenny University Hospital during 2017.
“Effectively this means that the measure was in place more days than not last year, which indicates that the Full Capacity Protocol has now become the rule and not the exception.
“This is unacceptable and a signal of a health service beyond crisis point, for patients and staff.
“And when we look at the data from other acute public hospitals across the state, we see that LUH was amongst those that had the highest prevalence of triggering the measure in 2017.
“When the full capacity protocol is invoked, much of the normal activity of the hospital is suspended, additional patients are moved onto wards and corridors, while often times elective surgeries at the hospital can be cancelled.
“Some hospital consultants have relayed to me that because of full capacity protocol being invoked continuously that electives surgeries are being seriously curtailed.
“The situation puts huge pressure on patients and their families and it puts huge pressure on staff at LUH.
“The addressing of the staffing and capacity crisis in the hospital is moving at a snail’s pace, despite this being a national emergency.
The Still Waiting Health Campaign are to stage a protest at LUH on Saturday, 24th February at 1pm to raise awareness of the many times that the protocol has been invoked.
A record number of 56 people in need of medical attention were recorded waiting for beds at the emergency department on Friday morning last.Tags: