Eighteen patients over the age of 75 were left waiting for periods in excess of 24 hours to be seen at Letterkenny University Hospital’s Emergency Department in 2017.
Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Deputy Pearse Doherty has reacted angrily to the figures which were released by the HSE.
“An often less spoken about strand of the Emergency Department crisis and the trolley crisis is the impact it has on older persons who use our acute public hospitals.
“These patients are often among the most vulnerable people due to their age as well as the additional medical needs that are often associated with aging, and so naturally early intervention and treatment is crucial in order to prevent their condition deteriorating and to avoid further injury.
It’s estimated that patients on trolleys can contribute to between 300 and 350 fatalities annually.
The Donegal Deputy said therefore it is very worrying that the HSE has confirmed that its target to ensure that no patient over 75 years of age remains in ED for more than 24 hours continues to be breached.
“And Letterkenny University Hospital was also not immune from this scandal, with eighteen elderly sick patients having been forced to wait for periods in excess of 24 hours before receiving treatment throughout all of last year.
“It is unacceptable that anyone is left waiting on a trolley for over 24 hours, but it is borderline criminal that elderly people are experiencing such excruciating waits.
“The HSE has a 24-hour target for seeing those over the age of 75, this target in and of itself is far too low and completely lacks ambition, but the fact that such a low target is not being achieved is serious cause for concern.
“Mixed into this crisis is the pressure that frontline staff are under to meet these targets and provide a world-class level of care while they are understaffed and overworked. Over the course of the past few days when severe weather conditions were hammering the country, we witnessed the unbelievable selfless work which the staff do in our health service.
“They endeavour to make sure that nobody is forced to wait in an Emergency Department or on a trolley however, they do not have the resources or the help from this Government to enable them to do so – this is simply unforgivable.
“We need more ambition in meeting targets for treating elderly patients from the HSE and the Minister for Health. If this situation is not rectified then lives will be put at risk resulting in fatalities.”