6,397 on trolleys for over 24 hours

There were 6,397 patients on trolleys in emergency departments around the country for more than 24 hours in June and July, 1,637 of whom were over 75 years of age.

The figures are released in the HSE’s latest performance reports, which also raise significant concerns over referral times for urgent cancer treatment in some parts of the country, particularly in Cork.

  • Nationally, some 92.5% of referrals for symptomatic breast cancer were seen within two weeks — the target is 95%;
  • Some 84.2% of referrals for lung cancer assessment were seen within 10 working days — the target is 95%;
  • 62.8% of patients availed of the prostate rapid access service within 20 working days — the target is 90%.

However, the HSE report admitted the national results masked “low performance areas in specific sites and for specific cancer areas”.

“Cork has reported that 63.1% of urgent breast referrals were seen within two weeks in July,” said the HSE.

“Lung cancer has shown an improvement in performance in July, however Cork [while shown improvement on previous month] only reported 60% of urgent referrals seen within 10 working days in July and Limerick reported 54.5%.

“The Mater reported 80.8% of urgent prostate referrals seen within 20 working days in July, Cork reported 0%, Limerick reported 22.7% and Galway reported 55.9%.”

The report does show some action is being taken to try to address these figures.

“As an immediate step, an agreement has been reached with the South Infirmary to provide four lung CTs per week for Cork University Hospital and this service will commence in September,” it said. “The Acute Hospital Division is working collaboratively with the National Cancer Control Programme to consider options for outsourcing diagnostics and treatments to improve rapid access for lung cancer, as clinically appropriate.”

Cork University Hospital
Cork University Hospital

On the prostate figures, it said a plan has been developed including, as an immediate step, the outsourcing of up to 50 patients in Waterford Regional and a plan to appoint an additional consultant urology post for Cork University Hospital which has been approved.

In relation to the emergency department figures, it said the 2,558 patients on trolleys for over 24 hours in July was 1,281 fewer than a month earlier. However, it said a “significant deviation from zero tolerance remains and significant further improvement is required”.

“This will remain under close scrutiny,” it said. “Each hospital group has implemented an escalation protocol for those patients whose wait time in emergency departments is approaching 24 hours as part of the winter planning process.”


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