Thousands of elderly patients face lengthy A&E wait
Nearly 8,000 older people have been forced to wait more than 24 hours in hospital emergency departments this year, according to shocking new figures.
HSE figures for the first six months of 2019 show that 7,700 patients over 75 faced waiting times of a full day or more in hospital EDs across the State between the beginning of January and the end of June.
January was the worst month so far in 2019 with more than 1,500 over-75s forced to wait more than 24 hours in EDs.
This figure fell slightly in February to 1,395 before creeping up again in March to 1,436. The figure fell again to 1,255 in April and was under 1,000 in May, but crept up to 1,100 by the end of June.
The figures were released by the HSE in response to a parliamentary question from Sinn Féin health spokesperson Louise O'Reilly.
The problem was particularly acute in large hospitals in cities. Limerick University Hospital had the highest number of patients over 75 waiting more than 24 hours with nearly 1,000 in the first half of this year.
Galway University Hospital had 854 patients, while Dublin's Mater Hospital had 793. In Cork, 723 patients over 75 were forced to wait more than 24 hours in the emergency department at Cork University Hospital and there were 666 patients in University Hospital Waterford who had waiting times in its ED of more than 24 hours between January and June. Nearly 600 elderly patients faced long waiting times in Dublin's Beaumont Hospital.
In its response to Ms O'Reilly, the HSE said that older persons presenting at hospital emergency departments are likely to have more than one condition, a longer patient experience time and require in-patient admission.
"Older persons also generally require a longer length of stay which in turn places greater demand on bed capacity."