Figures released for all of 2018 to by the HSE highlight the number of elderly patients, those over 75, who had to wait over 24 hours for care in Emergency Departments (ED) last year.
A total of 581 were forced to wait in excess of this time in Tullamore Hospital and 99 at Portlaoise Hospital.
Responding to these figures, Sinn Fein TD Brian Stanley said:
“The figures for Portlaoise and Tullamore underline the case for retention and upgrade of Portlaoise ED.
“While the total number of 680 over 75s left waiting more than 24hrs are scandalous, how much worse would this have been if Portlaoise ED was closed. The capacity in both hospitals needs to be increased.
“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, and the numbers across Offaly and Laois show a disregard for their care.
“These patients need to be treated urgently to prevent escalation of injury and ensure safe and swift treatment.
“It is very worrying that 14,041 patients across the State 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.
“Portlaoise Hospital saw a figure of 99 patients over 75 waiting in ED’s over 24 hours and Tullamore saw the incredible figure of 581 last year.
“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, more beds and the implementation of Sláintecare which will create a proper Public Health System.
“However, the government are damaging capital projects across the State due to the children’s hospital massive overspend. They appear to have little interest in implementing Sláintecare.”