Almost 6,000 over-75s forced to wait in hospitals for 24 hours

HSE misses ‘pathetic’ target for admitting or discharging elderly within a day of registration

Almost 6,000 elderly people have been made to wait for more than 24 hours in emergency departments so far this year.

Some 5,880 people aged 75 and over experienced an emergency department wait time of greater than 24 hours so far this year.

The HSE’s Service Plan for 2017 set a target that all attendees aged 75 years and over at emergency departments would be discharged or admitted within 24 hours of registration.

Fianna Fáil health spokesman Billy Kelleher received the figures after a parliamentary question.


“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,” said Mr Kelleher.

The figures show the problem is most acute in the larger urban hospitals.

University Hospital Limerick recorded 838 patients, the Mater hospital in Dublin recorded 702, while University Hospital Galway recorded 678.

“Frankly a target of 24 hours is pathetic in itself and it is setting the bar way too low. 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,” he said.

“Therefore, long waiting times should be an exception and arrangements should be in place to monitor and review patient waiting,” he said.

Mr Kelleher pointed to a 2012 Hiqa report which recommended the total patient time spent in the emergency department should be less than six hours. This time should be measured from when the patient arrives in the emergency department to when they leave it.

“The fact remains that the acute hospital budget is completely inadequate to meet patient demand. There are enormous capacity constraints and the continuing crisis in the emergency departments is having a knock on effect on waiting lists for scheduled treatment,” he said.


On Wednesday, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation reported more than 400 patients on trolleys nationwide.

“The omens for the winter are not good and if the trend continues some 10,000 older people over 75 will have endured a wait of more than 24 hours in an emergency department before the year is out,” he said.

The list below shows the number of people aged 75 and over who have experienced an emergency department wait time of greater than 24 hours up to August 2nd.

University Hospital Limerick: 838

Mater Misericordiae University Hospital: 702

University Hospital Galway: 678

University Hospital Waterford: 458

Cork University Hospital: 421

Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda: 368

Beaumont Hospital: 358

Naas General Hospital: 339

St Vincent’s University Hospital: 312

Mercy University Hospital Cork: 230

South Tipperary General Hospital: 198

Midlands Regional Hospital, Tullamore: 195

University Hospital Kerry: 170

Midlands Regional Hospital, Portlaoise: 142

St James’s Hospital: 137

Tallaght hospital – Adults: 133

Midlands Regional Hospital, Mullingar: 66

Connolly Hospital: 56

Wexford General Hospital: 28

Cavan General Hospital: 19

Mayo University Hospital: 11

Letterkenny University Hospital: 8

Portiuncula University Hospital: 5

Sligo University Hospital: 5

St Luke’s General Hospital, Kilkenny: 3

Total: 5,880