“It’s a sad indictment of the Government that 1498 of some of our society’s most vulnerable people, the elderly, spent longer than 24 hours lying on trolleys in our Emergency Departments last month,” said the Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Older People, Mary Butler.
Deputy Butler was commenting after new figures were released to her party from the HSE showing the number of people, aged 75 or more, who spent longer than 24 hours on a trolley in the State’s public Emergency Departments in February 2018.
“My own local hospital, University Hospital Waterford, had 101 such patients, averaging between three and four extremely vulnerable citizens every night on trolleys.
“Other hospitals such as the Mater in Dublin, Cork University Hospital, University Hospital Galway and University Hospital Limerick also saw more than 100 of these patients spend longer than 24 hours on trolleys in February.
“This is a disgraceful way of treating our older people. It’s nothing short of insulting to them and to their families. Many older people have told me they would prefer to stay at home sick and unwell than be on a trolley for 24 hours. They are afraid of dying lonely and alone on a corridor in a hospital.
“Best practice is for a maximum wait time of six hours for adults, according to HIQA. While of course the staff working in the Emergency Department are doing their best to look after, treat and care for these older people, there is nothing dignified in our mothers, fathers, and grandparents lying on trolleys without basic privacy.
“Ministers Harris and Daly need to make progress on this particular cohort of patients. While of course we need to see progress on the overall numbers, reducing the waiting times for our senior citizens must be a priority for the Government and the HSE.
“The HSE Special Delivery Unit must tackle these long wait times for our Over 75s and cut through the bottlenecks.
“Longer term, this issue, and the wider issue of overcrowded EDs can only be dealt with by increasing bed capacity in our public hospitals. Allied to this, the recruitment and retention of doctors and nurses and the delivery of better supports to enable older people, in particular, be discharged when appropriate must be improved.
“How we look after our older people is a measure of the type of society, and these figures show to me that this government has a terrible track record,” concluded Butler.