The abject failure of Fine Gael’s health strategy was laid bare this week with new figures from the HSE showing that 1453 people over the age of 75 were kept waiting over 24 hours in University Hospital Limerick Emergency Department so far this year.
The figures show that the situation in University Hospital Limerick Emergency Department for over 75s was by far the worst of all the hospitals in the country. Of the 9206 people who were kept waiting over 24 hours in Emergency Departments across the country so far this year, 1453 of them were in UHL. This is another damning indictment of University Hospital Limerick.
Over the last three months, an additional 3326 over 75s were forced to wait more than 24 hours in Emergency Departments to be treated or to be admitted across Ireland. It’s simply not on and further proof of Fine Gael’s failure in health.
The HSE’s Service Plan for 2017 set a target that all attendees aged 75 years and over at ED would be discharged or admitted within 24 hours of registration.
This issue was highlighted by Fianna Fail last August, and at the time, we said ‘the Government and the HSE are falling way short of what is required to provide a decent health service.
It’s now clear that this crisis is getting worse not better.
Equally, the very idea that keeping an older person, or indeed any person, on a trolley in an Emergency Department for 23 hours is acceptable is simply insulting to the dignity of our citizens.
It’s not acceptable that so many older and more vulnerable people should have to endure such long waits in University Hospital Limerick Emergency Department.
International research suggests that there is an increase in adverse outcomes for patients who have been in an ED for more than four to six hours. Long waiting times should be an exception and not the norm.
A 2012 HIQA report recommended that the total patient time spent in the emergency department should be less than six hours. This time should be measured from the time the patient arrives in the ED to the time of departure from the ED.
Our acute hospital budget is wholly inadequate to meet the growing demands on the health system.
The Bed Capacity Review needs to be finalised and Minister Harris needs to identify where he plans to develop increased capacity, and how he will fund it over the next five years.
Last week we learned that there were 82,459 on trolleys during first 10 months of 2017 – a new record. It’s going to get worse this winter, and I seriously doubt that Minister Harris has the wherewithal to deal with this crisis.