Concern over treatment of over 75s in hospital A&Es

By Aideen O'Flaherty

A COUNCILLOR is calling on the Dublin Midlands Hospital Group to ensure that elderly A&E patients over 75 are not “unduly delayed” while waiting for treatment.

Fianna Fáil councillor for Tallaght Central, Charlie O’Connor, voiced his concerns about this at a recent meeting of the Dublin Mid-Leinster Regional Health Forum.

Tallaght Hospital 03 compressor

Tallaght Hospital

The hospital group stated that the number of patients within the over 75s age bracket who present at emergency departments in the Dublin Midlands Hospital Group, which includes Tallaght University Hospital and St James’s Hospital, has continued to rise – with some hospitals reporting increases of 6.3 per cent and 7.8 per cent.

Cllr O’Connor told The Echo: “Nobody should be left to wait in A&E, but there are very elderly patients languishing on trollies [in emergency departments].

“I’m asking that every effort be made to ensure action is taken about this issue.

“We want to make sure that when an elderly person attends A&E, they’re not held up for a long time – that shouldn’t happen, but it does.”

In response to Cllr O’Connor’s question at the health forum, Trevor O’Callaghan, the Chief Executive Officer of the Dublin Midland Hospital Group, stated that although the attendances to emergency departments of patients who are over 75 are increasing, this year, to date, the number of admissions is down 0.5 per cent compared with the same time last year.

Mr O’Callaghan added: “Once a decision to admit is made, we endeavour to ensure that these patients are allocated an inpatient bed as soon as possible.

“Timely allocation of inpatient beds remains a challenge for staff as this is based on many factors including age, clinical needs and infection control requirements.”

Referring specifically to Tallaght University Hospital, he said that the hospital had “established an interdisciplinary initiative to meet the needs of a growing frail older population, and improve patient access to the comprehensive geriatric assessment that is available in the hospital.

“The Gerontological Emergency Department Intervention (GEDI) team includes specialist nursing, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, social work, speech and language therapy, dietetics with a geriatrics registrar with oversight from a Consultant Geriatrician and ED Physician.

“The introduction [of] Over 75 Frailty Initiatives has enabled the hospital’s work to reduce the need for acute hospital admission, reduced the length of hospital stay for those who are admitted and reduced the likelihood of dependence on residential care for these vulnerable patients.”

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