Figures 'better' but one in five patients still left on trolleys for over nine hours
ONE in five patients is still waiting for nine hours or longer on hospital emergency trolleys before getting a bed or being discharged home, according to the latest figures.
However, despite the long delays and a rise in people coming to emergency departments, the Health Service Executive (HSE) has insisted that fewer people than last year are now languishing on trolleys.
Yesterday, Our Lady of Lourdes in Drogheda still had 38 patients on trolleys, with 22 in Beaumont Hospital in Dublin, and 19 in the A&E of Galway University Hospital. St Vincent's Hospital in Dublin – which has seen a surge in attendances – and Limerick Regional emergency departments were also under pressure.
"There has been an 8.8pc decrease in the number of emergency department patients waiting on trolleys for ward bed accommodation from January to April, comparing 2014 with 2013," a HSE spokeswoman said. "This is a 30.6pc reduction in the number of patients waiting on trolleys for ward bed accommodation compared to the same period 2011."
Dr Mark Doyle, spokesman for emergency consultants, said many departments remain unsure if they will be able to find enough senior trainee doctors from the middle of this month when they change hospitals as part of their six-month rotation. "One of the problems is that some of the middle grade junior doctors apply for a number of posts in different hospitals. It is not until they decide which hospital they are taking, which can be quite late, that hospitals are sure of who is coming. It's guesswork at this stage," he explained.
Dr Doyle said the senior specialists are appealing to the Medical Council to lift the restriction on Indian doctors doing training schemes here although they work in regular service posts.
The Irish Independent reported this week that the HSE has recruited 115 trainee doctors from Pakistan and is also attempting to recruit more doctors from other EU countries.
Despite claims by the HSE that it is attempting to keep more hospital beds free, the latest figures show there are 651 patients in wards who no longer need hospital care but are facing delays getting a nursing home place, access to rehabilitation or returning home.
For those patients who are moving to long-term nursing care, the principal reasons for delayed discharges are failure to submit an application for the Fair Deal nursing home financial support. For those patients who are going home, the majority are delayed in cases where the home help or home care package has been submitted and is being processed.