Long wait times for admission to Limerick Hospital 

Former HSE Director General Paul Reid.

AFTER University Hospital Limerick recorded its highest ever trolley figures last month, a major national survey has revealed that more than 70 per cent of emergency department patients have to wait longer than the HSE’s target time of six hours to be admitted to hospital.

The survey of 10,743 patients in 40 hospitals by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) found that four per cent of patients have to wait 48 hours or longer for admission.

28 per cent of patients at University Hospital Limerick (UHL) waited longer than 24 hours, while 38.4 per cent and 28.5 per cent waited longer than 24 hours at Galway University Hospital and Cork University Hospital respectively.

Among the other areas cited by patients as “needing improvement” were emotional support, having sufficient time to discuss care and treatment options with a doctor, information on how to manage a condition after leaving hospital, and the opportunity for family members and friends to talk to a doctor.

In terms of Covid, 68 per cent of the patients surveyed said they did not feel at risk of contracting the virus during their time in hospital while nine per cent said they “definitely” felt at risk of catching Covid while being treated.

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12 per cent said they could not find a member of staff to talk to about their worries or fears about it.

Despite lengthy wait times, the survey found that most patients had positive interactions with hospital staff last year, with 83 per cent rating their hospital experience as good or very good.

Most patients stated that hospital staff treated them with dignity in emergency departments, provided them with privacy while being treated or examined, gave clear answers to their questions, assisted them with controlling their pain, and helped them to get to the bathroom, if needed.

81 per cent of the patients surveyed said they “always” had confidence and trust in the hospital staff who treated them.

HSE chief executive Paul Reid said the health service “must now learn from and act on the survey findings regarding long waiting times in emergency departments, limited emotional supports, the need for more information about managing a condition at home, and for opportunities for family members to talk to clinicians.

“We will use the findings to continue to develop and implement quality improvement initiatives to improve the experience for patients,” he said.