Older people in Galway have criticised lengthy waiting times and high parking costs in a survey of their experiences in local hospitals published by Age Action today who called on hospitals to end the block-booking of appointments.
The online and face-to-face survey of 385 older people attending hospital out-patient appointments was carried out by local Age Action members.
The length of time waiting to be seen by the doctor was identified as the most stressful part of the day with 122 of those questioned highlighting it as their chief concern.
More than two-thirds, 68 per cent, of those who drove to their appointment found the cost of parking to be “excessive”.
Justin Moran, Head of Advocacy and Communications in Age Action, said: “The survey was carried out by local Age Action members who have frequently raised concerns regarding the experience of older people accessing outpatient services.
“A lot of the feedback was positive, with older people generally satisfied with how their appointment was arranged and found they were dealt with sensitively by hospital staff.
“However, they also pointed to areas where hospitals in Galway could certainly improve. The continuing practice of hospitals block-booking appointments means that patients can be left waiting for hours.
“This approach has been frequently criticised, most recently by Minister for Health Leo Varadkar TD who urged hospital managers to bring the system to an end.
“As well as forcing patients to wait longer, block booking can be expensive. Many older people depend on the State Pension of €230 a week, even less for those not entitled to a full pension.
“Excessive parking costs hit their wallets and add to the stress of what can already be a difficult day.”
Driven by members
Mr Moran also pointed out that the research was substantially strengthened by being carried out by local Age Action members.
He continued: “This work was driven by our members. They highlighted the issue in the first place as one of concern and then drove the project.
“By using their own networks of contacts they made the research a lot stronger and ensured we have a deeper understanding of the challenges facing older people when using hospitals in Galway.
“As we mark the end of Positive Ageing Week 2015, the work undertaken by our members in shows that older people are actively engaged citizens who will ensure their voices are heard in the forthcoming election.”