People with a minor injury now face an average wait of five and a half hours from the time they are first registered to when they are discharged from the Emergency Department at University Hospital Galway.
The statistic comes from the HSE, and was in response to a Parliamentary Question to the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, tabled by Independent Galway West TD Noel Grealish. The figures show that from January 1 to April 1 this year, the average time from registration to discharge for a patient with minor injury was five hours 35 minutes.
Dep Grealish says this proves the need for the establishment of a minor injuries unit at Merlin Park Hospital to relieve the pressure on UHG. He contrasted the situation in Galway with that of the minor injuries unit attached to Roscommon Hospital, where the waiting time is less than one hour.
The HSE's reply to Dep Grealish's question also reveals the number of patients seeking treatment at the UHG EDt increased by 2.34 per cent last year — to a total of 62,355. The number of emergency admissions to the unit were also up in 2017, by 3.17 per cent on the previous year’s totals.
The HSE told Deputy Grealish in a letter: “Additional bed capacity, winter surge, norovirus, etc, and the boarding of patients awaiting beds (746 for month of March 2018 ), affects the flow of patients through ED, resulting in long waiting times and delays at triage. This has a direct impact on bed availability for elective activity also.”
The Carnmore based TD has campaigned for a minor injuries unit to be established at Merlin Park Hospital and pointed out that there were 11 such units "up and running successfully around the country, treating everything from broken bones, lacerations, strains, and sprains to minor scalds and burns", open seven days a week, from 8am to 8pm.
“At present only one out of every four people coming into the Emergency Department in Galway ends up being admitted to hospital, so the majority of cases could easily be handled in such a unit at Merlin Park," said Dep Grealish. “Imagine how that would transform the picture at the overcrowded ED in UHG, where staff are working under enormous pressure in a unit that is universally accepted as being unfit for purpose."
Dep Grealish is write to An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Health Minister Simon Harris to bring the new figures to their attention and press the Taoiseach to follow up on his promise to further investigate the idea of the new unit at Merlin Park.