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1,200+ deaths this winter may have been caused by overcrowding

Over 1,200 people may have needlessly died in Irish hospitals this past winter due to overcrowding, a patients’ representative body has said.

According to the Irish Patients’ Association (IPA), delayed treatment may have contributed to a large number of patients dying of treatable conditions due to long hospital waits.

According to an analysis of HSE figures by the IPA, less than one third of patients who attended Irish emergency departments between September and the end of January were admitted to be seen or discharged within six hours – the time usually aimed for by the health service.

The IPA then took this figure in the context of a UK medical study, which found that long waits in emergency departments are more likely to lead to unnecessary deaths. The study found that long wait times could lead to one extra death for every 82 patients.

The group then argued that based on these findings, of the 104,818 patients forced to wait longer than six hours for a bed, as many as 1,278 may have died.

IPA co-founder Stephen McMahon called the figures a “cause of concern,” with the group asking why “significant multi-billion euro investment” in new hospital beds over the pandemic years had not led to better health outcomes for patients.

“Questions need answers as to why there was a deteriorating in patient experience times for admission to a ward despite an addition of 332 beds and associated capacity of 11,903 patient bed [days] being added in 2022,” said McMahon.


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