50,000 walk out of A&Es in waiting times crisis
A massive 50,000 patients a year are walking out of our creaking hospital emergency departments - many of them in despair at long waiting times.
They include patients who may have serious medical conditions but leave A&E because they are so unwell they cannot stand the overcrowded conditions and trolley gridlock.
An average of 4,000 patients a month who are registering at emergency departments - and paying the €100 fee, if they have not been referred by a GP - in the hope of being treated are walking out. Some do so without even being seen by a nurse, the figures obtained by the Irish Independent reveal.
They show for the first time the true scale of the A&E crisis, which extends well beyond the official count of patients waiting for a bed to be admitted.
Although there are many reasons why patients leave without being treated, the figures confirm that hospitals with the most persistent overcrowding also experience the highest levels of walkouts.
Health Minister Simon Harris says a review of hospital beds is to be carried out.