Update 11.20am by Digital Desk: For the second day in a row, 760 patients are waiting without beds in Ireland’s hospitals.
This matches yesterday’s record highest daily figure.
Today's overall figure is more than the total bed capacity of any hospital in the state.
“This extreme overcrowding presents a clear danger to patients and staff alike. It requires immediate political intervention to stabilise our hospitals," said INMO General Secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha
“760 patients on trolleys means the health service is simply not functioning. The longer this level of overcrowding continues, the greater the threats to patient safety.
“We have written to the minister calling for action. We need to grasp the nettle and declare a major incident, cancel electives, and immediately approve recruitment for the worst-hit hospitals.”
The INMO has written to the Minister for Health calling for:
Update 8.50am by Digital Desk: The vice president of the Irish Hospital Consultants Association has said the number of new beds planned by the HSE this year is “like trying to put out a fire with a tea cup.”
Dr Laura Durcan told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland that the Irish health system is far behind where it needs to be with 300 fewer beds than a decade ago while there has been an increase in population.
The politicisation and “electioneering” of the health system made her very sad, she said. “We should have a world class health system, but we go from fire to fire and they throw money at the latest crisis.”
Commenting on the trolley crisis Dr Durcan said the HSE could have planned better as the health care needs of the nation “are completely predictable.
On Newstalk Breakfast emergency medicine consultant Dr Fergal Hickey said that “the dogs in the street” know more beds are the solution to the trolley crisis.
Dr Hickey, who is also Communications Officer for the Irish Association for Emergency Medicine, said that the fundamental issue is the ever-increasing demand for beds and that even if emergency departments continue to send home three-quarters of the patients they see, they will still require beds for the remaining 25 per cent and that number is increasing all the time.
The trolley crisis is no longer a winter issue, he said. “This is a day by day, week by week problem and we are setting new records (for numbers on trolleys) all the time.
“If they think this is a winter problem then they’re wrong.”
Ireland has one of the lowest bed capacity rates in OECD countries, he claimed. “They know it is a bed capacity issue. The HSE talks, but it has delivered nothing.”
Update 7am: The Irish Hospital Consultants Association claims the number of people on trolleys could exceed 800 in the coming days.
There was an all-time record of 760 patients stranded without a bed in Irish hospitals yesterday.
The HSE has apologised and says it is due to a surge in the number of people presenting with flu.
Dr. Laura Durcan, a consultant rheumatologist in Beaumont Hospital and the vice-president of the IHCA, fears things will get worse in the coming days.
"There is a strong feeling around the hospitals that the wheels are coming off the cart finally and that it is all starting to fall apart," she said.
Fianna Fail's health spokesman, Stephen Donnelly, says what happened yesterday was utterly appalling:
"It's shameful. It's failing patients and it's failing all of our healthcare professional who are being asked to work in impossible conditions," he said.
"Really it was all avoidable. We've been warning about this. The experts have been warning, the doctors have been warning that if they didn't do something about the hiring embargo, if they didn't open up diagnostics, if they didn't open up home care to deal with the lay discharge that inevitably the system is going to start collapsing."