Minimum 12 hour wait for 46% of A&E patients

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THERE was an increase in the number of patients who had to wait in accident & emergency departments for access to hospital last year, according to a new report by the government’s spending watchdog.

The report, by the Comptroller and Auditor General, states that 46% of patients had to wait for 12 hours or more in 2009.

It adds that 23 of the 33 hospitals scrutinised under the review, saw delays for patients in accessing senior decision makers and that in four hospitals, including St. John’s in Limerick, there was scope to improve the timeliness of diagnostic support which was not being utilised.

Approximately 25 per cent of emergency cases were admitted to hospital following assessment, while the remainder were treated and discharged.

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“While the direct cost of emergency departments before taking account of overheads is estimated at €196 million, ultimately in the hospitals examined, care for those patients who had to be admitted cost an additional €1.5 billion in 2008,” it stated.

Labour spokesperson on health Jan O’Sullivan said: “The report points out in black and white, what we all have heard at local level; that the situation is getting worse”.