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Over 14,000 elderly patients forced to wait over 24 hours in ED's last year - Louise O'Reilly TD

11 February, 2019 - by Louise O'Reilly TD

Speaking this afternoon Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Louise O'Reilly TD has said the figures released to her by the HSE highlighting the number of elderly patients who had to wait over 24 hours for care in Emergency Departments last year is just another indication of how the Minister for Health is failing at his job.

Teachta O'Reilly said:

"Just as the total number of patients on trolleys has increased year on year while Simon Harris has been Minister for Health, the number of elderly patients who have had to wait over 24 hours for care has also increased under his watch every year.

"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.

"It is incredibly worrying that 14,041 patients over 75 years old were not seen within the HSE 24 hour target timeframe last year - an increase of 2,821 older patients than in 2017.

"In Limerick 1,932 patients had to wait over 24 hours, it was 1,737 older people in Galway, and 1,033 in Waterford and St Vincent's. 

"For years now I have been calling on the Minister to look at the way older people are treated in the health service and reflect on how they are being let down.

"However, every year when I question him and the HSE the figures I get back are a stark illustration of how much he is failing at his job.

"The staff in our hospitals still do an amazing job and they are doing more with less resources; they are treating more patients even though there is a recruitment and retention crisis across all areas of the health service.

"All the while patients and staff are being failed by the Minister and by this government.

"The solution is more capacity, more staff, and the implementation of Sláintecare; however, the government are damaging capital projects across the State due to the children's hospital overspend, they are refusing to engage with nurses and midwives to resolve that crisis, and they appear to have no interest in implementing Sláintecare."

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