Sinn Féin TD Maurice Quinlivan has voiced his concern that 1,746 patients over the age of 75 were left waiting over 24 hours to be seen in University Hospital Limerick ED in 2017.
Speaking today, Teachta Quinlivan said:
“An often less spoken about strand of the Emergency Department crisis and the trolley crisis is the impact it has on the elderly people who use our acute hospitals. We all have elderly relatives many of whom have had very poor experiences whilst trying to access our local hospital.
“These patients are often among the most vulnerable people due to their age and the additional medical needs that can sometimes accompany aging. Being treated urgently prevents escalation of injury and ensures safety and swift treatment.
“Experts say that patients on trolleys can contribute to around 300 to 350 fatalities annually.
“Therefore, it is very worrying that the HSE has confirmed in a PQ to Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson Deputy Louise O’Reilly that 11,261 patients over 75 year old patients were not seen within 24 hours.
“The situation was particularly bleak in University Hospital Limerick where 1,746 elderly sick patients waited over 24 hours to be seen. The highest number in any hospital across the state.
“It is unacceptable that anyone is left waiting on a trolley for over 24 hours, but it is borderline criminal that elderly people are.
“The HSE has a 24-hour target for seeing those over the age of 75, this target in and of itself is far too low and completely lacks ambition. That such a low target has been missed on 11,261 separate occasions is serious case for concern.
“Mixed into this crisis is the pressure that frontline staff are under to meet these targets and provide a world class level of care while they are understaffed and overworked. Over the course of the past few days we have seen the unbelievable selfless work which the staff do in our health service. They would make sure nobody waited in an ED or on a trolley if they could, but they do not have the resources or the help from this Government – the staff in our health service are also victims of the inability of this Government to address the causes of the trolley crisis.
“We need more ambition in meeting targets for treating elderly patients from the HSE and the Minister for Health. If this situation is not rectified then lives will be put at risk resulting in fatalities.
“Furthermore, we need to see the immediate movement on the implementation of the recommendations of the bed capacity review and the Slaintecare report.” He concluded.
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