Update: The head of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), Phil ní Sheaghdha, has described a competition to encourage use of the discharge lounge at St James hospital as “clumsy”.
Her description was echoed by a former emergency consultant at the hospital, Professor Patrick Plunkett.
Ms ní Sheaghdha told RTÉ radio’s Today with Séan O’Rourke show that the concept of the discharge lounge is a good one when it is properly staffed, but the competition at St James, which was promoted on posters, was “clumsy” and the story was in danger “of being blown up into something that it isn’t.”
Prof. Plunkett explained that a discharge lounge is a centralised location where patients can go to be cared for while their discharge paperwork is completed and they await transport.
The whole idea is that a patient might be discharged in the morning, but they cannot leave until 6pm when they are collected by a relative or are brought home by ambulance. They would be left sitting by the bed all day and that bed could not be used by a patient on a trolley waiting to be admitted, he said.
“The idea is to shorten the process.”
Discharge lounges work very well in other jurisdictions, he said. “This is a planned process and the discharge lounge is to make it smoother.”
Ms ní Sheaghdha said that discharge lounges work well, but that the competition was a clumsy means to promote a very good concept. She acknowledged that there was no negative intent on behalf of St James hospital.
As part of efforts to improve patient flow and to free up the beds of patients leaving the hospital, staff at St James's Hospital in Dublin were offered prizes of up to €500. The competition was promoted on posters with the word 'win' and a slogan telling employees 'the battle is on - don't miss out'.
If there was funding available it should be spent not promoted by means of a ‘competition’, added Ms ní Sheaghdha.
Prof. Plunkett said he was not keen on the posters, but he understood the need to keep staff focused and to remind them of the importance of the discharge lounge.
Ireland's biggest hospital has come under fire for offering staff cash prizes to discharge patients faster.
St James's Hospital displayed posters with the slogan 'the battle is on' as part of a competition to move patients on before 11am.
As part of efforts to improve patient flow and to free up the beds of patients leaving the hospital, staff at St James's Hospital in Dublin have been offered prizes of up to €500.
The competition was promoted on posters with the word 'win' and a slogan telling employees 'the battle is on - don't miss out'.
According to the Irish Independent, €250 was offered for the most improved use of the discharge lounge, with another €250 for the medical team that sends the most patients to the lounge before 11am.
The competition was due to run for four months from October to January.
A spokesperson for the hospital told the paper that the posters have been removed and will be redesigned and apologised for any offence caused.
- Additional reporting by Digital Desk