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Dublin: 8 °C Thursday 17 October, 2019
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Almost 10,000 over-75s left lying on trolleys for more than 24 hours in first eight months of year

Fianna Fáil’s Stephen Donnelly said the situation is far worse than last year.

Image: Shutterstock/Corrado Baratta

NEW FIGURES DETAILING how many people aged 75 or over were left lying on trolleys in hospital emergency departments for longer than 24 hours have been described as a “serious indictment” into the government’s management of the health service.

According to figures released via parliamentary question to Fianna Fáil’s Stephen Donnelly, there were 9,864 of those aged 75 and over on trolleys for a day or more in the first eight months of 2018.

The situation was far worse in the winter months, with 1,955 people on trolleys in January alone.

The South/South West Hospital Group – which includes the likes of Cork University Hospital and University Hospital – consistently had the highest numbers of those over 75s on trolleys compared to the other hospital groups, according to the figures.

Donnelly said: “We must bear in mind that by 2 November last year, 9,206 over-75s had spent longer than 24 hours on a trolley.

Data for the first eight months of this year demonstrate a serious deterioration in how the HSE treats older patients when they present to emergency departments. 

The health spokesperson for Fianna Fáil said that this year is already “far worse” than last year, and that signs aren’t positive heading into the winter. 

“I am deeply worried and concerned for the public hospital system as we move towards winter proper,” he said. 

Donnelly added that it was time for the government to begin delivering.

In response to a request from TheJournal.ie, the Department of Health said: “The Minister for Health acknowledges the distress overcrowded EDs cause to patients, their families and frontline staff working in very challenging working conditions in hospitals throughout the country.

“This year has been characterised by high demand for unscheduled care, particularly among the over-75 age group. By the end of September 2018, total attendances were up by 3.6% and admissions up by 2.0%, compared to the same period in 2017.

As part of Budget 2019, an additional €10 million in funding is being provided in 2018 to prepare for and manage the expected peak in demand for health services in the winter ahead. 
This funding will focus on initiatives to enable the hospital system to de-escalate before Christmas. Supporting patients in the over-75 age group will be a priority, with measures to respond to surge in capacity and transitional care beds and aids and appliances to support the journey home of patients following a hospital stay.

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Sean Murray

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