Plan for the elderly
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Tennyson Springer, has indicated that short and medium-term measures, including the re-opening of a refurbished ward at the Geriatric Hospital, have been put in place to address the situation caused when elderly persons occupy acute care beds at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
After a meeting today with management of the QEH and the ministry, Springer noted that long-term solutions would, however, also need to be implemented to reduce the incidence of elderly patients being left at the hospital.
“The ward at the Geriatric Hospital can accommodate 36 people and the ministry is currently working to put the appropriate staff in place. In the long-term, solutions will have to be generated through working more closely with the Ministry of Social Care and other agencies to tackle the underlying issues,” he said.
Five persons moved per day
Starting on Monday, five persons are expected to be moved per day, from the wards at the QEH to the Geriatric Hospital. Another five elderly patients who were housed in the Accident and Emergency Department have already been moved to the St. Philip District Hospital.
He noted that the ministry was working to strengthen communication between the QEH and the district and geriatric hospitals, but he emphasised that there is a role for the public to play in addressing this situation in the communities and within the family unit.
“We cannot continue to make room in other institutions to house persons who could, with the requisite support, remain in their homes once they are well enough to do so. Currently, 12 per cent of our population is over the age of 65 years and this is expected to increase to 18 per cent by 2020, so we have to put measures in place now to address what could be an escalating problem,” he said.
The Ministry of Health is strongly urging members of the public who have relatives at the QEH who have been discharged to make appropriate arrangements to return these persons to their homes.