A significant number of operations that require patients to stay in hospital overnight are having to be cancelled because there are not enough beds.
Around 25 to 35 beds are taken up by elderly people who have nowhere else to go because care homes are full and care in the community is overwhelmed.
Further details about the crisis emerged at yesterday’s public hearing organised by Scrutiny Management into Health & Social Care.
The waiting lists are currently almost double what they were before Covid-19 hit in March 2020.
Dr Peter Rabey, the medical director, said everything was being ‘ruined by a shortage of beds’, and he described the situation as shocking.
‘We’ve got patients who’ve been waiting for joints for up to two years, and the date of their operation has been cancelled not once, not twice, it’s three times or even more because the bed that we hoped to have available for them is full.
‘This is a problem for the whole island, we need more care home beds, and we need to sort this out.
‘Patients who need an in-patient bed are at the moment almost all being cancelled, and that’s because on any given day we have between 25 and 35 patients in hospital, who really should be in a care home or a community setting with support.
‘It’s not the fault of those patients, but it is affecting our ability to get through lists, our surgeons are very frustrated at not being able to do the work they would like to do.’
Emergency and cancer operations are not impacted by the backlog, and the main areas where there are problems are in orthopaedics and endoscopy.
The team representing HSC at the public hearing went to great lengths to describe how there was not a single solution to the problem, and there were many parts to the jigsaw.
HSC president Deputy Al Brouard, said it was considering a number of options, including building a second John Henry Court for key workers, buying a hotel, and re-opening the Duchess of Kent and the King Edward VII.
He described the care home sector as the ‘key unlocker’ to the problem.
‘We need to make sure we have the right payments for them, that they are encouraged to expand because I think we’re going to need more care home beds in the future.
‘We also have to acknowledge that the staffing has become very difficult so I can well understand the reluctance of any care home to expand at the moment when they can’t provide the quality of care that they need to because they can’t get the staff themselves.
‘We’ve been talking to ESS [Employment & Social Security] with regards to seeing if there’s any payments they can make to make it more financially viable for the care homes so that they feel confident enough to release more beds.’