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The government vowed to stop it, but 10,000 elderly people had to wait in A&E for more than a day

The HSE’s Service Plan for 2017 set a target that anyone aged 75 years and over entering an ED would be discharged or admitted within 24 hours.

Image: Shutterstock/Toa55

A TOTAL OF 10,491 people aged over 75 have been kept waiting over 24 hours for treatment in Emergency Departments – despite the government setting a target to stop this from happening.

The HSE’s Service Plan for 2017 set a target that anyone aged 75 years and over would be discharged or admitted within 24 hours of registering at Emergency Departments.

In response to a parliamentary question by Fianna Fáil Health Spokesperson Billy Kelleher, the HSE acknowledged that this commitment was “regrettably” not met in 2017.

Elderly people are especially vulnerable when left on trolleys with limited access to bathroom and washing facilities.

Last November, TheJournal.ie highlighted how Ireland’s Emergency Departments are ranked as the most inefficient in Europe.

While Ireland ranked 21st out of 35 EU countries for overall health service and outcomes, the country had the longest waiting times recorded by patients in Emergency Departments when compared to every other country.

Figures provided by the HSE dating up until 11 December 2017 reveal that close to 10,500 elderly patients experienced wait times over 24 hours last year.

The following breakdown of the figures show the worst offender was University Hospital Limerick which had a total of 1,639 people over 75 waiting for more than 24 hours.

This was followed by the Mater University Hospital in Dublin and Galway University Hospital, with 1,370 and 1,241 respectively.

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Taoiseach Leo Varadkar clashed with Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin over wait times and trolley numbers in Irish hospitals this week.

‘Not defensible’

Varadkar admitted that the ongoing hospital trolley crisis is “not defensible”, but insisted that government was doing all it could to alleviate the situation.

He said the health minister is due to present his bed capacity review to Cabinet within the next few days and confirmed the report recommends that an additional 2,500 new inpatient beds are needed by 2030.

“It is not defensible. If this was simply a matter of political will and not finance we would have resolved this a long time ago,” he told the Dáil, adding that he did not understand why it was taking so long for Ireland to sort out its overcrowding problem.

The discussion about the trolley crisis and long wait times comes in the same week that the Irish Nurses and Midwives’ Organisation launched a new trolley watch system which counts how many children are on trolleys in EDs.

So far this year, a total of 73 children were left on trolleys in children’s hospitals this year.

One such case, where a mother was left for 36 hours for treatment of her five-week old baby to be seen, was recently highlighted by TheJournal.ie.

On Wednesday this week, a total of 550 people were on trolleys in emergency departments or on wards awaiting admission.

A total of 13 children were on trolleys waiting for a bed on Wednesday.

Read: ‘I waited in A&E with my 5-week-old baby for 36 hours’>

Read: Varadkar doesn’t want anyone to face ‘indignity’ caused by waiting on a trolley>

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