AMBULANCES are, on average, spending more than 40 minutes at Cork University Hospital before being ready for another call out - twice the target set for turnarounds.
According to figures released to Fianna Fáil health spokesperson Billy Kelleher TD, ambulances spent an average of 41 minutes and 53 seconds at the hospital in January, although the ambulance service has a 20-minute turnaround target.
Just 138 or 11% of ambulances were turned around within that target, out of 1097 made that month. 267 were turned around within 20 to 30 minutes, but more than half - 692 - were turned around in between 30 minutes and half an hour.
Another 154 took between one and two hours, while 21 took two to three hours, one took three to four hours, and one took five to six hours.
The Mercy Hospital fared slightly better, with an average turnaround time of 30 minutes and 18 seconds, and 31% turned around in less than 20 minutes. 156 of the 546 callouts took between 20 and 30 minutes to turnaround, and 189 took between 30 minutes and an hour. 28 took one to two hours, and one took two to three hours.
Mr Kelleher said that the figures are "a matter of grave concern" for patients.
"This speaks volumes about the management of our health service and has serious consequences for patients. Missing turnaround targets has further consequences of course for the ambulance service as it makes it harder to respond to new call outs in the target time if paramedics are delayed at hospitals," he said.
"Clearly these figures are symptomatic of wider problems in our hospitals. 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," he added.
Last month, Mr Kelleher obtained figures which showed that Cork City is covered by just three ambulances at night and during the weekends, and has just five ambulances during weekdays.