Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health David Cullinane TD has called on the Minister for Health to urgently implement a Zero Tolerance Plan to end long emergency department waits.
Teachta Cullinane’s remarks came as new data from the HSE (see below) shows that the average patient experience time to admission in emergency departments across the state is 12 hours, and almost 14 hours for patients aged over 75.
He said that 14 hour waits in emergency departments are unacceptable for any patient, but especially for elderly people who are often presenting with complex and multiple health needs, as well as mobility issues.
The data shows that emergency department wait times are worst in Cork, Limerick, South Dublin, Galway and Kildare where the average ED wait time is greater than 20 hours across Cork, Mercy, St Vincent’s, Galway, Naas and Tallaght Hospitals.
Teachta Cullinane said:
“The government must take a zero-tolerance approach to hospital overcrowding and long emergency department waits.
“Patients have been suffering the torturous consequences of overcrowding for years, but these figures show that the problem has reached a new extreme.
“For April, ED waits are 12 hours on average, and almost 14 hours for patients over 75. That is totally unacceptable.
“In the two major Cork hospitals, patients aged over 75 are waiting on average more than 24 hours – over a day – for admission through an emergency department.
“Older patients across Galway, Limerick, South Dublin, and Kildare are waiting more than 19 hours for admission through an emergency department.
“That is not the extreme end of the scale – that is the average, and it is both shocking and frightening for those patients and anyone looking on.
“The root causes of emergency department dysfunction are low hospital capacity, poor management of resources, delayed discharges, low out-of-hours GP coverage, and a lack of alternatives in the community.
“There is a high degree of burnout across the health workforce, and there is, without question, a need for more beds, doctors, nurses, allied health and social care professionals, and more capacity in diagnostics and operating theatres, but that is not all.
“There are efficiency reforms that have worked in some hospitals, such as Our Lady of Lourdes in Drogheda and in Cavan Hospital, to reduce overcrowding and delays in admitting, seeing, treating, and discharging patients, such as specialist medical wards and better patient flow pathways.
“All hospitals must act on each other’s successes and failures, and it is the Minister’s responsibility to ensure that the HSE is implementing best practice in each and every hospital.
“We urgently need a zero-tolerance plan to end excessive emergency department waits.”