St James's A&E has the shortest patient wait time
DUBLIN'S St James's Hospital has the shortest emergency room waiting time of any hospital in the country, a survey by the Irish Independent has found.
Two-thirds of patients presenting at the hospital's emergency department are discharged home or admitted to a bed within six hours.
In contrast, only one patient in five attending Beaumont Hospital in Dublin, Portlaoise Hospital, Cork University Hospital and Our Lady of Lourdes in Drogheda can expect the same level of service.
The six-hour target was set by the HSE two years ago, in a bid to shorten waiting times and improve patient safety.
However, a survey by the Irish Independent has found that no hospital is meeting this target for all their patients.
In fact, an examination of the most recently available records, from April, May and June, reveals how some hospitals still have a significant number of patients on trolleys for more than 24 hours.
The worst offender was Our Lady of Lourdes in Drogheda, where 20pc of emergency room patients were still waiting on trolleys a day after presenting.
Tallaght Hospital also had one in 10 still on a trolley after 24 hours.
The figures for the three months are the most up-to-date published information on waiting times and are based on data supplied by the hospitals to the HSE.
It emerged that St James's was the most consistent in meeting the target during the months surveyed.
While other major Dublin hospitals like Beaumont and the Mater had less success with the six-hour deadline, no patient was on a trolley for more than 24 hours during the three months surveyed.
St Luke's Hospital in Kilkenny also had no patients waiting more than 24 hours.
St James's hospital prioritises patients under a standard system devised by senior nurses and doctors.
They are classed from 1-5, ranging from immediate to patients who can be seen within four hours.
This influences how long a patient is waiting before being seen by an emergency doctor.
Asked why St James's has a better record than other hospitals, emergency consultant Professor Patrick Plunkett said: "All the various specialties, nursing, medical and administration across the hospital see it as their job to push the limits.
"You make little gains on every patient instead of making a big gain on a few. For instance, you try to send people to the right specialist early on so that they are not waiting three or four days for something they can get done today."