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‘Appalling’ five-hour wait in ambulance outside A&E


Pic: Ciara Moynihan

Louisburgh woman in her 70s forced to wait for urgent treatment

Áine Ryan

THE admission by the HSE that one patient had to wait five hours in an ambulance outside Mayo University Hospital’s Accident and Emergency Department (A&E) confirmed an ‘appalling and unacceptable’ situation.
That is the view of Independent councillor Michael Kilcoyne, who told The Mayo News yesterday (Monday) he believed that ‘despite reassurances, this delay would most likely happen again’, particularly since a meeting he attended had also confirmed there was ‘no funding allocation yet’ for the proposed extension to A&E at Mayo University Hospital (MUH).  
“Suppose there had been a major accident in the county, there would have been no ambulances available, and how could this cluttered A&E department have dealt with it?” Michael Kilcoyne said.  
Cllr Kilcoyne attended last week’s meeting of the Regional Health Forum West, where he raised the matter.  
“There has on recent occasions been considerable delays in the handover of patients from ambulance to the A&E at Mayo University Hospital,” he said, adding: “What has been the longest delay this year, from the ambulance arriving at the hospital to the handover of the patient, and when did it occur?”
Responding, Ann Cosgrove, Chief Operations Office, Saolta Health Care Group, confirmed to the meeting that ‘the longest turnaround’ to date in 2019 was five hours, and that this occurred on April 4 last. It also emerged that the patient forced to wait in the ambulance was a woman in her 70s from Louisburgh  in need of urgent treatment.
Continuing, she said: “The turnaround time recorded for the ambulance which arrived at 8.15pm was five hours. This is not acceptable, and we regret any distress or upset that this delay may have caused the patient or their family. It is important to state that over the month of March there were 392 ambulance attendances to the ED [Emergency Department] at MUH and 84 percent were cleared in one hour. We are currently in the process of developing new access points to the hospital for non-emergency ambulances so they don’t have to bring patients to the hospital via the ED.”
Ms Cosgrove also confirmed numbers had been very high during during March and April, which meant ‘overcrowding’ in the A&E, making it ‘very difficult from a patient flow perspective’. “This in turn has an impact on the turnaround times for ambulances attending the hospital,” she said.
Ms Cosgrove said that there had been significant progress in reducing the numbers waiting at A&E in line with the continued increase and recruitment of staff and resources.
In 2017, management at the hospital admitted that the A&E Department at the hospital had to cope with twice the numbers it had been designed for in 2016.
That was acknowledged by the hospital’s deputy manager, Lucy Martindale, at a Castlebar Municipal District meeting in December 2017.
Ms Martindale said that the A&E Department is designed for a ‘throughput’ of 20,000 patients per annum, yet in 2016 they had to deal with twice that number coming through their doors.