Updated: 15/03/17 : 06:46:07
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Sligo hospital worst for ambulance turnaround times

Continuing delays at emergency departments have led to just five of 34 hospitals hitting official targets for ambulance turnaround times.

Ambulances had to wait over an hour to transfer patients on more than 1,500 occasions in January, new figures show.

Sligo University Hospital was the worst-performing hospital, with 16.5 per cent of ambulances having to wait over an hour before they could resume duty.

The Irish Times reports that large numbers of ambulances also had to wait more than an hour at Mayo General Hospital, South Tipperary General Hospital, Cork University Hospital and University Hospital Galway.

Paramedics on one ambulance had to wait more than five hours at University Hospital Waterford to hand over patients, get their trolleys back and get back to responding to calls, HSE data shows.

Turnaround times took between four and five hours on four occasions last January.

Aside from the Dublin maternity hospitals, St James’s Hospital had the best record, and was the only major acute hospital to reach the official target of over 50 per cent of ambulances turned around in under 20 minutes.

It turned 51 per cent of ambulances around within the target time with just 0.2 per cent having to wait more than two hours.

Opponents of the plan to locate the new national children’s hospital at St James’s have cited traffic and access issues as reasons for moving the project to Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown but the figures show St James’s performed better than Connolly on ambulance turnaround times.

“It’s a matter of great concern that of the major acute hospitals – those with around 1,000 ambulance ED [emergency department] arrivals – just one of them broke 50 per cent for the 20 minute turnaround,” Fianna Fáil TD Billy Kelleher said.

“It’s notable that the worst performers in terms of reaching the 20 minute target – Cork and Galway – also experienced significant ED overcrowding in January.”

The average turnaround time for ambulances varied from 21 minutes in the Rotunda Hospital to almost 42 minutes in Cork, according to the figures provided by the HSE to Mr Kelleher.

Overall, 29 per cent of ambulances were dealt with in under 20 minutes, 56 per cent in under 30 minutes and 92 per cent in under an hour. Almost 8 per cent took over an hour to process.