Unfortunately the explanations provided by the Government, as to the shortage of beds in the Hospital over the festive period simply do not stack up. Those shortages have meant that some patients who needed to be admitted into hospital have had to wait for up to 12 hours at A & E for a ward bed, while others have not been able to be transferred from Xanit in Spain.
The problems are far more systemic than the Government is admitting. Statistics provided by in the latest GHA Board Report show that the bed occupancy rates at the Hospital for the last five years ranged between 92% and 111%. Since June of 2015, monthly bed occupancy rates have ranged between 102% to 111%. That is well over the UK Department of Health Guidelines that provide that state hospitals should have bed occupancy levels of no higher than 85%.
The clear statistical trend is for average bed occupancy levels to go up not down, regardless of peak demands. The information we have been provided with indicates that in the last week alone extra beds have been placed in wards and in areas such as the physiotherapy gym to cope with increased demand.
For the Government to say that the delay in opening the Dementia Unit has not contributed substantially to this problem is nonsensical. On the GHA’s own statistics, in April 2016 dementia and elderly long stay patients took up 48% of beds. That is nearly half of all beds! In their latest PR the Government says there are 60 patients receiving long term care at the Hospital “some of whom might otherwise be cared for in the new facility”. They are careful not to say how many of those 60 could be cared for in the Dementia Unit but it is safe to assume that a large proportion would be.
Daniel Feetham, The Leader of the Opposition, said: “The reality is that despite huge spending by the Government over the last five years, the Dementia Unit has not been prioritised and dementia sufferers have had a litany of broken promise as to when the Unit would open. That has had a very significant effect on the ability of the GHA to meet bed occupancy targets and the pressure is contributing to low moral on the part of front line staff, who despite these problems have remained very professional throughout”.