The hospital system is currently operating at close to full capacity. The number of patients attending Emergency Departments continues to increase year on year. For the first ten months of 2019, the number of patients over the age of 75 attending hospital EDs increased by 3.3% compared to the same period last year. This reflects increasing demand for unscheduled care, especially by patients in the 75 years and over age group.
However, the National Service Plan 2019 includes an expected activity target that 99% of patients aged 75 and over attending at an Emergency Department are discharged or admitted within 24 hours and any breach of this target in respect of patients in this age cohort is unacceptable.
There are a number of factors which may affect the waiting times for older patients. In particular, people in the older age category presenting to EDs are more likely to have complex needs and be admitted then the population generally. Consequently, a higher number of these patients may have to be accommodated on trolleys, pending their admission to a ward. There are also issues around delayed discharges of care which can cause congestion within hospital emergency departments.
With regard to the Deputy's specific question, I have asked the HSE to respond to the Deputy directly with the requested information.