517 on trolleys in A&Es or wards

There were 517 patients on trolleys in hospital emergency departments or on wards yesterday, according to figures from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation.

St Vincent’s University Hospital in Dublin had the highest number of patients on trolleys, at 53.

Beaumont Hospital in Dublin and Cork University Hospital each had the second-highest number of patients on trolleys, at 42.

Tony O’Brien, the HSE’s director general, yesterday tweeted (via the account @dghealthservice) that at 2pm, there were 345 patients on trolleys, 205 of whom were waiting over nine hours.

The HSE has been describing the trolley situation as “System Red” for a number of days.

Health Minister Leo Varadkar said yesterday that he had expected the trolley figures to remain high after the HSE reported 240 patients on trolleys on Monday night — “not a very good closing position”.

He said the high number of patients on trolleys seemed very much driven by increases in attendances related to flu-like illnesses.

He said the incidence of flu-like illness was not expected to peak and then subside for another week or two.

Mr Varadkar said there had been a 10% rise in attendances at emergency departments so far this year, a situation that has “overwhelmed” additional capacity to reduce overcrowding.

Mr Varadkar updated the Cabinet yesterday on the impact flu-like illnesses were having on emergency departments.

He said the latest report from the HSE’s Health Protection Surveillance Centre showed the incidence of flu-like illness was rising in most age groups.

Mr Varadkar said the HSE campaign urging people to get vaccinated, especially those in high-risk groups, would continue. He said doctors should keep administering anti-virals and people should try to avoid attending emergency departments if there were alternatives.

Other measures discussed at Cabinet included contracting use of private beds in private hospitals, the further expansion of community intervention teams, and offering overtime to staff.


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