“Trolley number comparisons are masking the scale of the crisis at South Tipp General” Mattie McGrath

by admin on 19/04/2017

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Yesterday Independent TD Mattie McGrath said the Irish Medical Organisations ranking of hospitals by the numbers patients on trolleys does not accurately reflect the scale of the challenges present at South Tipperary General Hospital. Deputy McGrath was speaking as STGH has again been ranked as having 26 patients’ on trolleys, the second highest in the country next to Cork University Hospital (CUH) which has 27:

“While I do not doubt the accuracy of the patient count at the respective hospitals, I am raising concerns regarding the manner in which the numbers can mask problems that CUH for example simply will not have to face.

To continue comparing the two facilities is unfair for the simple reason that South Tipperary General has probably a third less space that CUH, while at the same time it consistently has  the equivalent amount of patients waiting for a bed.

Our hospital has to deal with narrow corridors and cramped spaces, something which CUH as a more modern facility does not have to encounter on such a regular basis.

We know that in the years previous to 2015 STGH had an escalation plan for such high numbers of trolleys that did not include the Full Capacity Protocol but had instead a tiered response to the activity within the Emergency Department.

But what these numbers continue to show is that neither the previous policy or the newly developed Full Capacity Protocol has come anywhere near addressing the crisis situations.

We seem to be simply changing the titles of the Emergency Department Directives with absolutely zero change in outcomes for patients on trolleys.

I am appealing to the Minister for Health Simon Harris and indeed the HSE, to spend less time cobbling together useless and ineffective protocols and to spend more time and money delivering urgently needed services like the proposed temporary modular accommodation unit which has not even exited the tender stage yet.” concluded Deputy McGrath.

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1 Comp April 20, 2017 at 11:23 am

Using round numbers for clarity, 50 patients in trolleys in a hospital with 100 beds is far worse than 50 patients on trolleys in a hospital with 1,000 beds even though the number of trolleys is the same. To address this, the numbers should be expressed as percentages of the total patients. In the first case, 33% of the hospital’s patients are on trolleys; in the second case, 5% of the hospital’s patients are on trolleys. The hospital with the higher percentage of patients on trolleys needs to be addressed more urgently.

Using the number of trolleys per hospital without addressing them as a percentage could show an intention to deceive or incompetence.

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