Nearly 80% of ambulances spent over half an hour at a hospital before they offloaded their patient, new Freedom of Information figures have revealed.
Turnaround time is the interval between an ambulance's arrival at a hospital and when the crew has handed over a patient; the HSE's target time is less than 30 minutes but that was only achieved in 20.8% of cases last year.
Chief Executive of Lifeline Ambulance Service David Hall said many ambulances wait a lot longer than half an hour.
“I think it can go to any number of hours - multiple hours,” he told Newstalk.
“Anybody involved in the ambulance service will tell you - from anywhere in the country - that they’ve had a whole host of ranges of times from minutes, right up to multiple hours waiting for a handover of a patient and being able to release the ambulance back again.
“It’s probably the single biggest contributing factor to the response times - the knock on effect of response times of ambulances being able to respond.”
The worst establishment last year was Cork University Hospital - where the target was only met in 4.5% of cases.
Mercy University Hospital in Cork met the target only 5.5% of the time and it was met in less than 10% of cases in five other hospitals.
Main image: Ambulances queued at the entrance to a hospital.