Hundreds of patients left Tullamore Emergency Department without being treated this year

Figures released to Sinn Féin this week show that from the months of January to March of this year, 546 people left the Tullamore Hospital Emergency Department without being treated.

Sinn Féin TD for Laois-Offaly Brian Stanley spoke in the Dáil this week during a debate on hospital waiting lists; a debate that the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly was not present at. Deputy Stanley highlighted the need to address capacity issues in local Emergency Departments and the need for more step-down beds and the expansion of home care services.

Deputy Stanley said: “The reality is we have 888,000 people on hospital waiting lists, record waiting times, record numbers of people leaving emergency departments without treatment. These are alarming figures. This is despite the best efforts of the front-line staff in the emergency departments.’’

The average wait time for an Emergency Department admission in Ireland this year is 11.5 hours, with an average of 550 patients waiting on trolleys each day.

According to the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), the HSE has a 1,000 bed deficit, alongside a need for an extra 330 beds in addition to this deficit.

"One solution I have persistently put forward is the need to improve discharge times," Deputy Stanley argued. "To do this, we need to increase step-down capacity to free up beds in the acute hospitals."

He revealed that in Tullamore, between January and March this year, 428 bed days were lost due to delayed discharges. Although this shows a reduction from the previous two years, Deputy Stanley insists that "that is too many days lost."

Deputy Stanley continued: "Also delaying discharges is the lack of home care packages. People who are ready to be discharged cannot leave because they do not have a home care worker. We need to fix that situation.’’