Sunday 15 September 2019

Over 30,000 people had to wait on hospital trolleys for over 24 hours this year

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Mícheál Ó Scannáil

OVER 30,000 people were forced to wait for over 24 hours on hospital trolleys this year due to under resourcing, HSE information reveals.

According to the report, 30,922 people experienced waits of more than 24 hours in emergency departments of Irish hospitals between January and October of this year. More than a third (10,855) of those who experienced the delay before admission into the hospitals were older than 75.

Fianna Fáil Health Spokesperson Deputy, Stephen Donnelly, who was given the information, said that the number of patients on trolleys has reached a crisis point.

“This year has seen an ongoing crisis in our Emergency Departments with a record number of patients on trolleys, the 100,000 threshold was broken even before November was over,” he said.

“While it’s not surprising that so many have endured such long waits it’s still appalling and unacceptable. To put it in perspective the number of people enduring 24 hour waits would fill the Mater Hospital fifty times over. To make a bad situation worse, more than one in three were aged over 75.  This is a disgraceful situation and must be viewed as borderline elder abuse.

“There is a serious need to increase capacity in all our hospitals and it must be addressed as a matter of urgency. It’s not just extra hospital beds that are needed; we also need to see more step-down facilities and home care to reduce the number of delayed discharges. 172,377 bed days were lost during between January and October. If the trend continues for all of 2018, it will break 200,000. This is wasteful and inefficient and a horrendous situation for patients to be in.”

Deputy Donnelly criticised Fine Gael’s budget plan and although he said that this year has already been far worse than last, he said that the problem will persist in 2019, if the HSE service plan is not improved.

“It is simply extraordinary that on Budget Day the Minister for Health could say that we are in the era of Sláintecare, yet two months later approve a HSE Service Plan that will reduce the number of elective inpatient treatments”, he said.

“The Service Plan shows that the HSE missed virtually all of its acute hospital targets during 2018. The long waits that the over 75s endured in emergency departments is the most glaring example of this failure.

“Overall the tone of the plan seems to be maintenance not expansion. Take primary care for example. The Programme for Government promises a decisive shift, but funding for new developments in primary care in 2019 is just €4.5 million – just over half of one percent of the budget allocated.

“One thing is clear though. With this government Sláintecare will be a long time coming.”

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