Harris: 'There is no one-size-fits-all solution' to hospital overcrowding

Update 6.26pm: The Health Minister has recognised the "intense efforts" of health service staff as the number of people on hospital trolleys reached a new national record high for the second day in a row.

Minister Simon Harris said a "time of high pressure in our emergency departments" has led to patients experiencing "very difficult conditions".

The Minister today met with senior staff within the Department of Health and said he was regularly updated by senior HSE officials.

"It is vital that we begin to see an impact from the exceptional measures being undertaken to reduce overcrowding in our EDs and tomorrow I will be directly updated by each Hospital Group CEO on this," he said.

"While recognising that there is no one-size-fits-all solution, we must continue to ensure the lessons that can be learned from those hospitals performing better are applied across the system," Minister Harris added.

"I want to reassure the public that all the Winter Plan measures funded by increased investment by Government, like increased access to home care, transitional care and diagnostics along with additional acute bed capacity, are being implemented to deal with the extra pressures our health service is experiencing. 

"I've today made very clear to the HSE that they have my support in taking any enhanced measures necessary to help increase discharges, most particularly access to diagnostics, senior clinical attendance and community supports."

Earlier: Numbers waiting for hospital beds reaches record high for second day in a row

The number of people on hospital trolleys has reached a new national record high.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation says 677 patients are waiting for beds today, that figure is up on yesterday's of 656 patients on trolleys and overflow areas of wards.

St Luke's Hospital in Kilkenny is the most overcrowded today with 54 people without a bed.

Liam Woods of the HSE says the flu epidemic has put the system under huge pressure, particularly since Monday.

He said: "What we are experiencing at the moment across all sites is very high attendance numbers, that's particularly the case in the past couple of days.

"The system actually managed quite well through until New Year's Day, and from then was under a lot of strain.

"There are some hospitals that are coming out of that quicker, that's not all about performance though, it's a factor of available nursing home space in the community and transition in the community are key factors."

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