The new memo, it is reported, provides direction to nurses in acute hospitals in respect of the handling of public patients who have completed the acute phase of their treatment. It instructs nurses on the “removal of patients from beds”, using “minimal force”. Disgracefully, it refers to such patients as “trespassing”.
This document displays a shocking mind-set at a senior level of the HSE which sees patients as mere numbers which have to be reduced. It is indicative of an inhumane attitude to patients and seeks to place nurses in an impossible position in respect of patients in their care.
One of the greatest failings of our health service is its inability to provide much promised integrated care for vulnerable patients. The HSE is supposed to provide a seamless service but when it comes to older patients in particular, the focus is to get them out of acute hospital beds as quickly as possible with little regard for a longer term care plan or step down facilities. This amounts to a “quicker and sicker” release policy.
There are now long waiting lists for home help services and home-care packages and many, many older people are being left in dire circumstances without essential supports.
The revelation of this memo clearly reflects a culture among some elements of management in the HSE which is far removed from the kind of caring and patient-centred approach which is needed.
Deputy Shortall called on the Minister for Health, Simon Harris to thoroughly investigate how this memo came about, who was responsible for it and how it was approved. “It was a very serious error and those responsible must be made accountable for it”, she said.
Deputy Shortall said the HSE should issue a formal apology for the memo. She will also be seeking answers from the Minister in the Dáil.