Management at University Hospital Galway (UHG) have been accused of taking too long to improve work practices after it was revealed this week that 1,348 patients were left on trolleys at the hospital in the first four months of this year.
Although the number of patients lying on trolleys has decreased significantly since the ‘peak’ figure of 2,088 during the same period three years ago, the Chairman of the HSE West / North West said there were still problems with the system used to assess and discharge patients.
Cllr Padraig Conneely, who is also Mayor of Galway, said no distinction seemed to be made between an elderly person whose health was in danger and a person with a minor sports injury upon admission to the Emergency Department at UHG.
He claimed “inefficiencies” in the admissions and discharge of patients were clogging up the hospital and forcing patients to spend nights on trolleys.
“I don’t want to see anybody on trolleys longer than they should be,” said Mayor Conneely (FG). “I am still hearing horrific cases of people who are being left to lie on trolleys for up to two days.
“We have to strive to make the system more efficient in the Emergency Department at UHG. I am still not happy with the way patients are prioritised. A person who hurt a small finger playing sports should not be treated in the same way as an elderly person whose health is in danger. Priority should be given to the elderly and the sick.”
Mayor Conneely claimed more efficient assessments of incoming patients could be adopted at the hospital and that patients could be discharged more quickly if they were “signed off” in time by consultants at UHG.
“A person with a minor sports injury, who is not going to die, should not be queuing up with somebody in their 80s who has serious health problems. I would not be happy with the release or discharge system, either, because sometimes patients cannot leave UHG just because consultants have not signed them out.
“It is distressing for elderly people who are ill. The rate of progress in improving the system is simply too slow.”