Today, more than 530 patients are on trolleys in accident and emergency departments. In some hospitals the situation is truly chaotic, and it is extremely stressful for many patients throughout the country. In Beaumont Hospital 45 patients are on trolleys. I am reminded of the Minister's statement in December that the situation in Beaumont Hospital would be alleviated fairly quickly, but it is getting far worse. In Cork there are at total of 53 patients on trolleys at Mercy University Hospital and Cork University Hospital. The number in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital is 50. In Galway the number is 30 and in Limerick, where sources state that the situation is absolutely chaotic, it is 37. In Wexford the number is 32. Last week we learned about a 100-year-old woman who spent more than 24 hours on a trolley, and the story was well covered in the Irish Daily Mail. She was one of up to ten people aged over 80 who spent up to 23 hours on trolleys, which is a truly scandalous situation.
This could have been avoided. When Deputy Billy Kelleher tabled a parliamentary question last week about people availing of the fair deal scheme, the real story came out as to why the accident and emergency departments were in such crisis before Christmas. In January 2014 only 512 people were waiting for four weeks for approval under the fair deal scheme, but these numbers progressively increased over the year. In May, 1,265 people were waiting for up to eight weeks for approval. It got decidedly worse by October, when 2,114 people were waiting 15 weeks for approval.
It was a deliberate budgetary decision that the Taoiseach took to neglect health and that then led to delayed discharges from acute hospitals and, ultimately, to the accident and emergency crisis we are currently experiencing. As of 29 January, 1,333 people were waiting an average of 11 weeks.