Wicklow Sinn Féin TD for John Brady has today published data from the HSE which shows that 2,379 patients left the emergency department at St. Vincent’s University Hospital, which caters for the majority of Wicklow emergency patients, in the first 5 months of the year without being seen. This compares to 770 in 2018.
“It is obvious that this is caused by extremely long emergency department waiting times of 19.5 hour’s on average so far this year at St. Vincent’s University Hospital.
“Ten years ago, I warned that the closure of the emergency department at St. Colmcille’s Hospital in Loughlinstown would inevitably lead to St. Vincent’s becoming overwhelmed as a result.
“At the time the current Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly offered erroneous assurances that extra resources would be put in place to ensure that this would not happen. As we were all aware at the time, his assurances proved false.
“What is now clear is that just as Minister Stephen Donnelly failed St. Colmcille’s Hospital, he continues to fail St. Vincent’s University Hospital.
There needs to be an urgent review carried out into the emergency department capacity at St Vincent’s University Hospital, along with increased investment in community-based alternatives such as out-of-hours GP and late-night pharmacy. He further stated that, ultimately, more beds and staff are needed at St. Vincent’s University Hospital emergency department to reduce waiting times, as well as a significant increase in GP capacity.
“2,379 patients left emergency departments without being seen in just the first 5 months of the year, in comparison to 770 for the same period in 2018. Waiting times in St. Vincent’s University Hospital emergency department have shot up to 19.5 hour’s, which is driving patients to leave without being treated.
“The high number of patients leaving emergency departments without being seen is highly concerning. Patients are attending emergency departments because they are in need of urgent care and have nowhere else to go.
“Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have brought the health service to its knees, with waiting times worse than ever. GP practices are bursting at the seams. Hospitals are grappling with a lost decade of underinvestment. This is heaping more pressure on emergency departments.
“Tackling the crisis in our hospitals should be a priority for the Government, but they have failed at every step. They have not made the investments in beds and staffing that are needed. Young graduates continue to emigrate in their droves. Meanwhile, there are record levels of spending on outsourcing to the private sector instead of building public capacity.
“The Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly needs to get to grips with this crisis. We need an urgent review of emergency department capacity, and ultimately, we need more beds and staff for St. Vincent’s University Hospital.
“Sinn Féin would ramp up training places to increase staffing in hospitals, in the community, and in general practice to reduce the pressures on emergency departments. We would engage with healthcare workers and address the cost of living and housing crises to increase worker retention. We would invest in expanding hospital capacity on a consistent, multi-annual basis, as outlined in our Alternative Budgets, to tackle overcrowding in emergency departments.”