Children waiting on hospital trolleys for over nine hours

Almost half of the children on hospital trolleys yesterday were waiting more than nine hours for a bed, it has emerged.

The 11 children on trolleys in the three children’s hospitals in Dublin are the youngest victims of the nationwide trolley crisis.

There were seven children on trolleys in Temple St Children’s Hospital, with four waiting over nine hours, according to latest HSE’s count.

In Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin, three children were on trolleys — with one waiting for more than nine hours. Tallaght Children’s Hospital had one child waiting on a trolley.

Health Minister Simon Harris, who met with members of the Emergency Department Taskforce yesterday, said it was unacceptable that patients were experiencing very difficult conditions in hospital EDs.

Agreed measures include the opening of additional beds in a number of Dublin hospitals including St James’s, the Mater and Beaumont. Beds will also be used in private hospitals.

Phil Ní Sheaghdha, general secretary of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), who called for the meeting, said all agreed acute beds were needed to address the capacity problem but this could not be realised without additional nurses.

The HSE recorded 419 patients on trolleys in the emergency departments of acute hospitals yesterday, a 10% increase on last year’s figures.

The INMO counted 555 patients on trolleys in emergency departments or on wards yesterday.

The hospitals worst hit were University Hospital Limerick with 55 patients waiting; Cork University Hospital, with 45, and Letterkenny with 40.

One of the exceptional measures taken by Cork University Hospital to ease overcrowding was to use the private sector to treat patients.

On Sunday, CUH transferred 11 patients to the Mater Private Hospital in Cork where beds were purchased for them. More patients moved to the Mater Private yesterday. It is the second year that CUH has used the Mater Private as part of its winter plan.

CUH medical clinical director Mike O’Connor said all the patients moved to other hospitals, including the Mater Private, had been assessed by consultants and were agreeable to the move.

“We don’t transfer anyone to an institution that is not able to meet their needs,” Dr O’Connor told RTÉ radio yesterday.

CUH resumed elective surgery yesterday. The hospital decided to reduce the number of planned operations over the Christmas period so it could manage emergency cases in a safe and timely manner.

The Dublin Midlands Hospital Group said there had been no transfer of patients to another hospital to ease overcrowding. There are five acute hospitals in the group — Tallaght, Midland Regional Hospital, Tullamore, Midland Regional Hospital Portlaoise, Naas General, and St James’s.

The UL Hospitals Group said 78 patients had been transferred from University Hospital Limerick to other hospitals in the group between last Tuesday and Sunday.

Patients were transferred to Nenagh Hospital, Ennis Hospital, St John’s Hospital, and Croom Orthopaedic Hospital.


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