Prioritise investment in A&E doctors, GSD says
The GSD has called on the Government to invest in Accident and Emergency doctors as a priority.
This comes after the GHA denied reports that a local 93-year-old woman had to wait four and a half hours to see a doctor at the A&E Department in St Bernard’s Hospital.
In a statement the GSD accused the government of “continuing to conduct politics by spin”.
“On the one hand they deny the newspaper article that a 93-year old lady had to wait four and a half hours at A&E before she was seen by a doctor but when you read their response to the article carefully, and strip away the spin, one can see that the story is true,” the GSD said.
The Opposition said it is “not acceptable that a frail elderly lady, who has suffered a fall, should have to wait for such an inordinate length of time before she is seen by a doctor”.
It added that no one has suggested that she had not been seen by a nurse or that she had not received routine blood tests.
The issue is that a doctor should have seen her much earlier than he did, the GSD said.
“As the article in the newspaper states ‘if you are a very elderly person, who has suffered a fall and very aware of your own mortality it is not only unreasonable to be kept waiting so long but the delay allows the mind to invent all manner of negative scenarios,’” the GSD said.
“The fact that once she was seen by the doctor, the latter kept her under observation for another two hours, shows that this was a proper A&E case.”
According to the GSD there are eight nurses at the A&E.
“The feedback we have from professionals is that barring unusually high absences through illness, is a sufficient number,” the Opposition said.
The GSD claimed the problem is in the “lack of doctors” and separately, though not impacting on the reasons for the delay in this case, with bed shortages in the hospital causing patients to have to wait at A&E before they are admitted into a proper ward.
“Both these issues impact on people outside A&E waiting to be seen by either a nurse or a doctor because it causes blockage within the A&E,” the Opposition said.
“The Government is projected to spend close to £120 million on health this year, nearly £10m a month. Dealing with the problem of doctor shortage at the A&E should be a priority.”
The GSD’s statement drew an angry response from the Government who said it was “disgraceful” that the Opposition had chosen to make “incorrect throwaway remarks” regarding bed availability at St Bernard’s Hospital when they have already received the correct information in Parliament.
According to the Government, waiting times for treatment at A&E are not dependent on the availability of ward beds.
It pointed to comments made by the Minister for Health, Neil Costa, during the last session of Parliament in which he said the GHA has had a daily average of 11-15 available ward beds since January.
The government explained that this means that patients can be transferred out of A&E as soon as doctors are satisfied that treatment can continue in a ward.
Mr Costa, said: “The GSD are clutching at straws, trying desperately to draw false conclusions. This Government has implemented a number of contingency measures to increase bed availability at St Bernard’s Hospital.”
“These include the employment of Specialist GPs and the empowerment of clinicians and doctors to prioritise patient care and support for families, particularly by offering packages of care. The opening of the Dementia Residential Home and additional beds at the Elderly Residential Service will allow St Bernard’s Hospital to function primarily as an acute Hospital.”
“A more active and effective bed management system, a temporary seven-bed ward, and the introduction of a full time social worker at St Bernard’s Hospital has in fact prevented admissions and led to a 100% successful discharge rate.”
“This means that once a patient is discharged from hospital with a package of care, they do not return to hospital with the same problems.”
“Whilst NHS hospitals in the UK were turning people away for lack of beds, the GHA was able to continue working well even at this difficult time of year.”
Mr Costa added: “As always, I am incredibly grateful to the professional and diligent staff at A&E and throughout the GHA for the excellent work they do to care for our community.”