Hospital overcrowding 'now a year-round problem'

Hospital overcrowding 'now a year-round problem'

Update 3.30pm: The Irish Medical Organisation says overcrowding is now a year-round problem and that acute beds are urgently needed to free up Emergency Departments.

A total of 299 people are waiting to be admitted to a proper bed in Irish hospitals today.

The IMO says the policy of cancellation of elective surgeries is "insane", and is causing distress to patients.

Consultant in Emergency Medicine at Beaumont Hospital Peadar Gilligan says 1,600 beds have been closed in the past 10 years and must be reopened.

"Where there is capacity in a hospital that is not being used because it's not adequately staffed - I'd like to see that capacity opened," he said.

"I'd like to see procedures not being cancelled. It can lead to a patient's condition becoming and emergency for them."

However, Health Minister Simon Harris said increasing bed capacity in emergency departments would not solve the overcrowding crisis on its own.

The IMO criticised the reactivation of the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF), where public patients on waiting lists are treated in private hospitals.

Minister Harris said the NTPF helps patients, and reduces waiting lists, adding: "We've seen waiting lists increase, and demands on the health service increase over the last number of years.

"People at home just want the procedure done; they don’t want a big ideological debate on where it gets done. I agree with the IMO that it's not desirable, but it has to be about coming up with solutions."

Earlier:

Doctors say a shortage of beds is causing chaos in Emergency Departments.

The Irish Medical Organisation is releasing a report today to highlight the lack of acute beds in hospitals across the country.

It comes as newly released figures show it costs around €325,000 to provide each new bed.

The Irish Times reports the statistic is contained in a new report drawn up by the Department of Health for the new Oireachtas Committee on the future of our health service.


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