Irish Medical Organisation

IMO warns of deepening impact of Emergency Dept crisis

Evidence now of elderly patients refusing to go into Emergency Departments even when their condition demands it

Tuesday 7th January 2015. The Irish Medical Organisation has warned that the crisis in A+E Departments around the country is having a significant impact on elderly patients in particular. The IMO reports that its members across the profession including Consultants in Emergency Medicine and doctors in General Practice are warning that the prolonged nature of this crisis is causing particular problems including a growing loss of confidence on the part of elderly patients in Emergency Departments.

Professor Trevor Duffy, President of the IMO, warned that elderly patients who should be presenting to Emergency Departments for treatment were refusing to and were running significant risks to their health and wellbeing as a result; “Our members and all health care professionals are working tirelessly in this crisis and will continue to do so despite the fact that some of their workplaces are now more like warzones than hospitals. But the HSE itself has acknowledged the health risk this crisis is causing for patients who are stuck in the system and we are also seeing increasing instances where patients who need to be seen by Emergency specialists are refusing to go into the system because of what they have seen and heard about the crisis.”

Dr. Ray Walley, Chairman of the GP Committee of the IMO said that he had reports from Doctors across the country who were recounting instances of elderly patients refusing to attend at Emergency Departments; “many of these patients need to go into the triage system where they can be assessed and the appropriate treatment arranged. If Emergency Departments become no-go zones for fearful elderly patients, it’s only a matter of time before we will be dealing with a tragic and unnecessary death as a result. It is just not possible to cater for patients who need emergency care in their homes or in GP surgeries and there is a real risk now of the wider health system becoming log-jammed as a result of the blockage in the Emergency Departments.”

Professor Duffy called on the Government as a whole to respond to this crisis rather than devolving responsibility to the Minister and the HSE; “Clearly additional resources are required to deal with the current crisis and it is imperative that the Government as a whole accept this and support what I think must be an inevitable request for additional funds from the Department of Health and the HSE to resolve the crisis.”

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