More than 1,200 patients over the age of 75 were left waiting for more than 24 hours to be seen in the Emergency Department at Galway University Hospital in 2017.
The figures were revealed by the HSE following a question in the Dáil by Sinn Féin health spokesperson, Dep Louise O’Reilly, which found that 11,261 patients over 75 years of age, were not seen within 24 hours. Galway University Hospital was shown to have the second worst waiting times in the State in this respect.
The situation has been described as “shocking” and “unacceptable” by Sinn Féin city councillor, and the party’s Galway West election candidate, Mairéad Farrell, who said the impact of both the Emergency Department crisis, and the trolley crisis, on the elderly people, is often overlooked.
“These patients are often among the most vulnerable people due to their age and the additional medical needs that can sometimes accompany ageing,” she said. “Their being treated urgently prevents escalation of injury and ensures safety and swift treatment. 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 across the State is serious case for concern.”
Cllr Farrell also said frontline staff were also under pressure. “We have seen the unbelievable selfless work staff do in our health service,” she said. “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.”