Elderly patients most at risk in health crisis

The emergency department at University Hospital Kerry

FEARS have been expressed that the health of older patients is being put at major risk as figures released by the HSE reveal that thousands of patients had to wait over 24 hours for care in emergency departments – including University Hospital Kerry – in the first six months of the year.

Figures released to Kerry TD Martin Ferris, who is Sinn Fein’s health spokesperson, show that 7,700 patients over the age of 75 had to wait over 24 hours for treatment in the period from January to the end of June.

“In University Hospital Kerry the number of older people affected were extremely high with 385 patients forced to wait over 24 hours for care,” he revealed.

“They are often among the most vulnerable people in our hospitals due to their age and the additional medical needs that can sometimes accompany aging. Being treated urgently prevents escalation of injury and ensures safety and swift treatment,” Deputy Ferris added.

He said if the next six months go the same way as the first, then 2019 will be the first year ever that over 15,000 older patients have had to wait these excessive times for treatment.

Hospital staff are treating more patients than ever even though there is a recruitment and retention crisis across all areas of the health service, he pointed out.

The Kerry TD said the solution is more capacity, more staff and the implementation of Slaintecare but, he claimed, the government is damaging capital projects across the state due to the children’s hospital overspend.

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