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Limerick Hospital worst offender for lengthy emergency department waiting times for over 75s

Nationally more than 1,000 people over the age of 75 faced emergency department waiting times of more than 24-hours every month so far this year.

Image: Shutterstock/ploypemuk

UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL LIMERICK racked up the highest amount of emergency department visits lasting more than 24 hours for people over the age of 75 in the first six months of this year.

Last month the hospital urged people not to attend the emergency department unless it is neccessary due to the high number of patients there. Today it emerged that 955 people over the age of 75 have spent more than 24 hours in the department between January and the end of June.

New figures from the HSE show that March was the busiest month for the hospital when 202 elderly people were forced to wait more than 24 hours in the emergency department.

On a national level more than 1,000 people over the age of 75 faced emergency department waiting times of more than 24-hours every month so far this year.

A total of 7,700 over 75s have spent more than a day waiting to be seen at hospitals around Ireland up until the end of June.

Waiting times peaked in January when 1,518 people experienced the extended stays. April was the second busiest month as 1,436 pensioners waited more than 24-hours to be seen.

Galway University Hospital had the second highest amount with 854 people experiencing protracted visits while the Mater had the third highest amount with 793.

The statistics were released by the HSE on foot of a parliamentary question from Sinn Féin’s Health spokesperson Louise O’Reilly. The figures for July are not yet available.

“Older patients are often among the most vulnerable people in our hospitals due to their age and the additional medical needs that can sometimes accompany aging. Their being treated urgently prevents escalation of injury and ensures safety and swift treatment,” the Dublin Fingal TD said.

If the next six months go the same way as the first, then 2019 will be the first year ever that over 15,000 older patients have had to wait these excessive times for treatment.

The HSE said that older patients attending Emergency Departments are likely to be complex. They generally require a longer length of stay which in turn places greater demand on bed capacity.

“The HSE, through the Integrated Care of the Older Persons Programme and emergency Acute Floor concept, is seeking to develop better alternatives to better manage the needs of older persons and strives to ensure no patient remained in ED for over 24 hours,” a spokesperson said.

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Ceimin Burke

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