The Gibraltar Government last night accused the GSD of painting an inaccurate picture of the circumstances at St Bernard’s Hospital following a surge in demand for beds.
The Government was responding to GSD suggestions that bed shortages over the festive period could have been avoided if the Government had prioritised the Dementia Day Care Centre and Residential Unit.
In a statement No. 6 Convent Place said it felt it necessary to clarify the circumstances at St Bernard’s Hospital, adding that it will make a ‘major’ announcement regarding the Dementia Day Care Centre and Residential Facility later this week
No. 6 explained that St Bernard’s Hospital experienced a surge in admissions in December that was greater than is normal for this time of year.
“However, although larger than usual numbers of patients required hospital treatment, the GHA was prepared to meet the seasonal increased demand for hospital services,” the statement read.
It was expected that, as is usual in winter, the Accident and Emergency department at St Bernard’s Hospital would experience an increase in attendance by elderly patients.
“In line with industry best practice, the GHA has been working holistically across the service and together with the Care Agency and with relatives to deliver care packages at home,” No. 6 said.
“This forward-planning has meant that over 75% of elderly patients attending A&E were able to go home without requiring hospital admission.”
“This is by far the most beneficial outcome for the patients who are able to receive quality treatment and care in the comfort their own homes.”
All patients who required admission into St Bernard’s Hospital in December 2016 were admitted and provided with a bed, although some were treated in A&E until they could be moved to a ward, it added.
The Government emphasised that these patients received exactly the same care in their temporary A&E beds as they would normally receive on a ward.
The Government added: “Regrettably, three GHA patients receiving treatment at Xanit have been delayed in their immediate repatriation to St Bernard’s Hospital due to unavailability of a bed.”
In each of these three cases the safest and best option was for these patients to temporarily remain at Xanit, No. 6 said.
The Government also confirmed that a major announcement regarding the Dementia Day Care Centre and Residential Facility would be made later this week.
“There are currently 60 patients receiving long term care at St Bernard’s Hospital, some of whom might otherwise be cared for at the new facility,” it added.
“The Opposition, therefore, paint an inaccurate picture of the circumstances at St Bernard’s Hospital.”
The Minister for Health, Neil Costa, said: ‘The GHA has been working extremely hard over the last few months to plan ahead for the normal winter surge in hospital admissions.”
“This year, however, we experienced an unusually high demand for hospital services and regrettably, a small number of patients remain temporarily at Xanit until we are able to safely and comfortably repatriate them to St Bernard’s Hospital,” Mr Costa added.
The Government and the GHA are committed to providing the best possible standard of healthcare provision 24/7, year-round, and I would like to thank all GHA staff for their professionalism and dedication in meeting this winter’s increased demand.
“In many cases this has meant that patients have been able to spend the holidays at home with their families whilst still receiving the highest possible standards and quality of care.’