Monday 27 January 2020

Elderly are at risk as trolley crisis to 'get worse this winter'

(Stock photo)
(Stock photo)
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Frail and elderly patients will be at risk this winter as the trolley crisis is likely to get worse, it has been warned.

Dr Fergal Hickey, spokesman for the Association of Emergency Medicines, told the group's annual meeting that the older a patient is and the longer they are on a trolley, the higher the risks they face.

Dr Hickey said this was due to several factors, including the older patient's difficulty in fighting illness and the chance of staff missing a deterioration or forgetting to give them medication.

Dr Hickey said it was unacceptable that 604 patients were taking up scarce hospital beds yesterday, even though they could be medically discharged if they had suitable support such as home help.

The HSE's community-care section was failing to provide these patients with timely support and should be fined, he said.

There were 361 patients on trolleys nationwide at 2pm, according to the HSE's own figures.

Of these, 169 patients were suffering delays of more than nine hours in an emergency department.

Health Minister Simon Harris claimed that trolley numbers were down this year.

But the HSE's figures showed yesterday's trolley count was worse than the same day in 2015 or 2014 - an ominous signal of winter overcrowding ahead.

Meanwhile, doctors have urged at-risk groups to get the flu jab.

Irish Independent

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