Almost 6,000 over 75s faced waiting times of 24 hours or more in EDs

Fianna Fáil's Billy Kelleher said even the HSE's target for emergency departments is "pathetic"

Almost 6,000 over 75s faced waiting times of 24 hours or more in EDs

File photo. Image:

Newly released figures have shown that 5,880 people aged over 75 have experienced a wait time of more than 24 hours in one of Ireland's emergency departments.

The long wait times were recorded in more than two dozen hospitals across the country, ranging from a handful of cases in some emergency departments to hundreds in others.

HSE figures released to Fianna Fáil's Billy Kelleher reveal that 838 elderly patients faced long waits in University Hospital Limerick.

A figure of 702 patients was recorded for Dublin's Mater Misericordiae University Hospital, while 678 over 75s were waiting in Galway University Hospital's ED for a day or more.

It comes despite the HSE's target of eliminating emergency department waiting times of more than 24 hours.

Deputy Kelleher said even the target is "pathetic" and sets the bar "way too low".

He argued: “The Government and the HSE are falling way short of what is required to provide a decent health service. It’s not acceptable that so many older and more vulnerable people should have to endure such long waits in Emergency Departments.

"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. Therefore, long waiting times should be an exception and arrangements should be in place to monitor and review patient waiting."

Meanwhile, figures from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) show that a total of 57,674 hospital patients were on a trolley at some point during the first seven months of the year.

While those figures are a record amount, the organisation also highlights that there was a 6% reduction in patients or trolleys last month compared to July 2016.

INMO General Secretary Liam Doran observed: "These figures are further confirmation that our health service continues to be too small and, regardless of the initiatives that have been taken, demand continues to outstrip the capacity of the health service to provide timely, appropriate and dignified care."