Almost a dozen ambulances left waiting outside A&E
The ambulances outside Tallaght University Hospital

Almost a dozen ambulances left waiting outside A&E

A LOCAL TD has called for action to be taken about the overcrowded A&E department in Tallaght University Hospital, after almost a dozen ambulances were left waiting to transfer patients on Sunday.

Sinn Féin TD Seán Crowe criticised the delay in transferring patients from the ambulances into the hospital.

Speaking on Monday, Deputy Crowe said: “There were 11 ambulances left standing outside Tallaght University Hospital yesterday.

“Rather than being able to discharge their patients into the care of the hospital, they were forced to wait because the A&E inside was stretched to the breaking point.

“Dublin Fire Brigade perform an invaluable service to this city through the provision of ambulance services.

“They do not have the vehicles or manpower to waste sitting on the tarmac outside Tallaght Hospital as the staff inside try to treat an already overcrowded A&E department.

“This sort of log-jam that takes ambulances out of service for indefinite periods of time is going to [cost] lives in emergency situations.

“We must adhere to the ‘golden hour’ principle whenever we can. That first hour of care is critical when dealing with stroke or cardiac arrest or a traumatic injury.

“We cannot have sick or injured patients spending it out in the car park.

“The staff in Tallaght Hospital do fantastic work but need more support from government to do the jobs we all need them to do.

“This problem existed long before Covid and has been allowed to spiral out of control once again.”

Last month, the hospital asked people to avoid the A&E department and to consider “alternative care options” if their need wasn’t urgent, as the department had reached full capacity.

“The paramedics and frontline personnel want to ensure quality of care and patient safety, but this cannot happen without further commitments in terms of enhanced resourcing and personnel being followed through on,” added Deputy Crowe.

“The Government must urgently review the adequacy of National Ambulance Service resources.

“It is vital that we identify exactly what is needed to phase out the use of private services, reduce reliance on overtime, fill vacancies and expand staffing and the ambulance fleet.

“We also must provide more appropriate hospital beds to avoid patients being left in the back of ambulances and ensure that they are admitted to hospital and treated.”

A spokeswoman for Tallaght University Hospital confirmed to The Echo that attendances at the hospital’s emergency department were “exceptionally high”.

“Attendances to the Emergency Department at TUH have been exceptionally high in the last few days with many patients requiring admission and a high number of those patients have complex care needs,” she said.

“With high attendances and high rates of admissions this puts pressure on the ED and also the hospital as there is a shortage of beds.

“This has been combined with a decrease in the number of in-patients deemed medically fit for discharge.

“The hospital works continuously to free beds for admitted patients, but there is a clear underlying requirement to develop additional onsite bed capacity.

“Following completion of an external strategic analysis review which was submitted to the HSE and we are waiting for sign off on this to move to the next state in the process to develop a new 72 single-bed facility at the hospital to address these additional capacity requirements.

“The hospital has also developed with our HSE colleagues in the community to develop pathway to reduce the number of patients presenting to ED.

“The hospital is also working with the National Ambulance Service (NAS) on a new initiative called Pathfinder which is focussed on improving outcomes for older people by providing safe alternative care at home rather than in hospital this service is being jointly run by NAS staff working with Allied and Social Health Care colleagues from the hospital.

“Discharge from the Hospital continues to be a challenge (as per above) with a high number [of] patients currently waiting for either home care packages, housing adjustments, access to rehabilitation or a place in a nursing home.

“We are asking the public to consider alternative care options before attending the ED as unfortunately people with less urgent complaints will experience long wait times.

“The hospital regrets any delay a patient experiences whilst waiting in our ED.”