Drugs, alcohol cause of rise in hospital trolley use, says HSE

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From The Irish Times

PAUL CULLEN, Health Correspondent

An increase in drug and alcohol abuse cases has been blamed by the HSE for the recent spike in the number of patients on hospital trolleys.

A rise in the number of older patients attending hospital emergency departments, as well as young people with respiratory illnesses, were also factors that saw the number of patients on trolleys exceed the 300 mark. Some 67 per cent of those attending emergency were discharged or admitted within six hours, well short of the 95 per cent target, according to the HSE performance report for December. No hospital reached the target.

The best performing hospitals were Tullamore, St Luke ’s in Kilkenny, Kerry, Letterkenny, Portiuncula and St John ’s. The Mater and Galway hospitals had the worst figures.

In December, there were 384,446 patients waiting for an outpatient appointment, including almost 11,000 who have been waiting for more than four years.

In response to the consistently high figures for outpatient waits, Minister for Health James Reilly told the Dáil this week he had set a target of 12 months for the maximum waiting time for an outpatient appointment by the end of November next. This means about 110,000 appointments will have to be processed this year.


The figures reveal massive overspending by hospitals last year. Beaumont Hospital and the Mid-Western Regional Hospital, Dooradoyle, were almost  €27 million over budget, Cork University Hospital  €23 million and the Mater  €19 million. Louth County Hospital was almost 60 per cent over budget.

There were big falls in waiting times for elective procedures. The number of adults waiting more than nine months fell from 4,678 to just 86. For children, the number waiting more than 20 weeks fell from 1,712 to 89.