Nearly 850 patients were left waiting on trollies at midland hospitals for more than 24 hours last year according to Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley.
The biggest of the three in Tullamore had the worst figures with nearly 630 people aged over 75 left waiting to get a bed after being in need of hospital care.
The figures which Sinn Féin has obtained in response to parliamentary questions are alarming. They cover an 11 month period from January to November 2019.
The figures show that 628 patients over the age of 75 had to wait more than 24 hours to be attended to in Tullamore Emergency Department, while the figures for Portlaoise was much less at 69. In the case of Mullingar, it was 146 for the same period.
"In a proper health service, no person who is sick or injured should have to wait 24 hours or more in any emergency department to be treated. The fact that hundreds of our most elderly citizens, aged over 75 years and who are more likely to have complex medical needs, are having to wait this amount of time is truly shocking. Expert advice tells us that treatment in a timely manner greatly diminishes the risk of serious and long-term medical conditions.
"The current overcrowding in emergency departments is unfair, not just on patients but also staff who are in no way to blame for the crisis. Staff regularly complain to me that the situation they are been put in is getting extremely difficult.
"The current crisis in our hospitals is unacceptable given the fact that we are supposed to be the tenth richest country in the world and that we spend more per capita on health that almost all other EU countries.
"Our elderly citizens deserve better and I am calling on the Government and in particular, the new Minister for Health to address this serious problem. Capacity needs to be increased in this most important part of our health system. Extra beds and extra staff are needed at the frontline to cater for our increasing population which include greater numbers of the elderly. Government and the HSE need to start building proper services at the frontline,” said Dep Stanley.
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