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Patients left waiting more than 33 hours on average for a bed

Beds in the emergency room of the acute care wing of King Edward VII Memorial Hospital (File photograph)

People attending the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital emergency department had to wait more than 33 hours on average for an inpatient bed one day last month, new figures reveal.

The peak time was hit on April 30, with the average wait for the two weeks up until May 7 standing at 13.8 hours – down by one hour on the previous fortnight.

The Bermuda Hospitals Board said this marked a “slight improvement” in the situation.

On three days during the period the bed waiting time was more than 20 hours on average.

The maximum average wait time for the previous two weeks stood at 27 hours.

The figures come after The Royal Gazette revealed that a 76-year-old man was left waiting for a hospital bed for more than two days after arriving in the emergency department.

Although, the number of people attending the emergency department during the period was down by 73 to stand at 1,275, only three fewer patients, 176, needed beds compared with the previous fortnight.

The BHB said that on two days the number of people needing beds was double the usual figure.

A BHB spokeswoman said: “The latest two week report indicates that there have been overall improvements to wait times within the emergency department, but peaks on certain days that impact the figures.

“Peaks in admission are soon followed by rises in a wait for an inpatient bed following the decision to admit.

“While Sunday, April 30 certainly had the longest median wait for an inpatient bed at 2,030 minutes, over the most recent two weeks the daily average time from an ED admit decision to ED departure fell by over an hour to 828.6 minutes from 892.5 minutes, indicating that bed availability overall had slightly improved.

“Fewer ED visits during the most recent two-week period also resulted in overall reductions in the average time after arrival to triage over the two weeks – 16.5 minutes for April 24 to May 7 compared to 18 minutes in the prior two weeks.

“The average time to see a doctor after arrival, 58 minutes, compared to 69 minutes, and the average length of time spent in the ED from arrival to departure, 210 minutes, or 3.5 hours, compared to 219 minutes.”

The BHB repeated calls for people to collect friends or family members by 11am to ease “bed blocking”.

The spokeswoman said: “During this time we have continued to work hard within KEMH to facilitate efficient discharges, but there are still people who no longer need hospital treatment still unable to leave.

“This is frequently due to lack of nursing home placements, or care arrangement in the community being in place.

“We continue to thank the families and partners in the community who work with us to ensure a timely discharge for their loved ones, and who help by ensuring those who are discharged leave their rooms by 11am.”

The BHB warned in March that it will struggle to maintain its facilities or to pay a basic cost-of-living increase to its staff because government funding is not keeping up with medical inflation.

The BHB, which is $16 million short of the funds promised to it by the Government in 2019, said that even if the Government made good the shortfall, failures to increase the spending cap meant that it had received a single 1 per cent increase in five years.

It emerged this year that the BHB had been short-changed by up to $31.6 million in funding over the past four years.

The BHB and the Government agreed in 2019 that it would receive an annual block grant of $322 million – made up of a government grant, Mutual Reinsurance Fund transfers and taxpayer subsidies – but that financial commitment was never paid in full, resulting in a shortfall.

David Burt, the Premier and Minister of Finance, acknowledged in his Budget address that the hospital had to run on an overdraft, and said the Cabinet had approved a $15 million payment to the BHB and would need to increase funding in the Budget for 2023-24.

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Published May 16, 2023 at 7:56 am (Updated May 16, 2023 at 7:28 am)

Patients left waiting more than 33 hours on average for a bed

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