Press Release

Minister Harris announces lowest recorded number of delayed discharges from hospitals

  • Winter Initiative target for delayed discharges now exceeded
  • extra home help funding & community supports brings delayed discharges to a new low of 436
  • lowest levels since 2011
  • figure had hit high of 832 in 2014 & 659 earlier in 2016

Minister for Health Simon Harris T.D. today announced that delayed discharges in Irish hospitals have reached a low of 436 and the reduction targeted by the Winter Initiative has been exceeded. The number has fallen from a recorded high of 832 in October 2014 to just 436 today, more than meeting the key target of fewer than 500 patients waiting to move from acute hospitals to more appropriate care by the end of the year.

Minister Harris said “This is hugely welcome progress for patients who have been waiting in acute hospitals for support to go home or for a place in a care setting that is better for them and meets their needs. We have been putting an intense focus on this in the Winter Initiative, providing additional home help hours and community supports and it’s great to see real results for those patients who no longer need to be in our hospitals. This has an important impact on the hospitals themselves too, making more beds available for sick patients and reducing the waiting times to access those beds.

‘This is a major achievement for our health service, and I’m very happy to see the targeted funding I announced this year having such a real effect. People want to leave hospital, to live in their own homes and communities and to maintain their independence for as long as possible, and support services are critical in allowing them to do so.

‘The measures taken by Government to date demonstrate clearly that allowing patients to move home or to an alternative suitable community setting which meets their needs is a key priority. It’s as a result of a very targeted, integrated approach, carefully planned and carried out, that we see this outcome today.

‘This has been achieved not only by detailed planning but by providing significant additional funding for home help and for aids and appliances, as well as an additional 58 Transitional Care bed approvals every week and the expansion of Community Intervention Team services, helping more than 6,500 patients.

‘I look forward to seeing the benefits of this approach for patients and staff in the health service as we move into 2017, and to building on this success.”

Further Information

In June of this year, as part of an additional €500m secured by Minister Harris for the health service, an additional €41.4 million was provided for home care on top of the original €330 million provided for 2016.

Building on the additional resources already provided in 2016, a further €23.2m (€13.2m from Winter Initiative, and €10m in new development funding) will be provided for homecare in 2017.

This will provide for an increase in the number of Home Help Hours from to 10,570 million in 2017. The number of people in receipt of a Home Care Package will also increase from 15,450 to 16,750 in 2017. Intensive Home Care Packages are being maintained at 190. The 2016 Winter Initiative provided 650 additional Home Care Packages in 2016 and 300 extra are included in the 2017 Service Plan. Paediatric Home Care Packages are also increasing, from 474 to 514.

The 2016/17 Winter Initiative includes increased funding for Aids & Appliances to support discharge of patients from hospitals as well as facilitating hospital avoidance, benefitting more than 3,000 people.

An additional 55 acute beds and 18 additional step-down beds are being made available, while Minor Injury services in Dublin are to be expanded to provide for an additional 100 patients each week.