HSE starts review over trolley crisis

THE HSE has launched an internal review of the trolley crisis after hospitals across the country failed to manage the recent surge in emergency department patient numbers.

The latest meeting of the HSE board has been told the review — which will be completed within a month — will specifically examine the impact of winter illnesses and why some hospital services were not available.

Speaking at the meeting, HSE chief executive Cathal Magee said the situation over the winter and in the first weeks of this year was unacceptable for patients, staff and management.

Trade newspaper Irish Medical Times said the recently appointed National Director for Risk, Quality and Clinical Care, Dr Philip Crowley, will oversee the review before detailing the findings to the HSE Board.

Emergency departments across the country were at crisis point at the start of last month after a surge in the number of people waiting on trolleys.

The situation was most apparent in large urban areas such as Cork and Dublin.

Both the HSE and the Department of Health have attributed the problem to issues such as the increase in patients presenting with human swine flu, flu-like illnesses and other seasonal illnesses common during the winter months.

At the February HSE South regional health forum meeting, senior health service officials confirmed January was the worst period on record for Cork University Hospital (CUH), which saw one of the highest numbers of patient presentations of any hospital in Ireland last month. In all, 4,411 people presented at CUH’s emergency department in January — 58% of whom did not need to be admitted, according to the HSE.

News of the internal HSE review of the national situation came on the same day as the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation said 364 people were waiting on trolleys.

According to the union, the five hospitals with the worst trolley count record yesterday were: Tallaght Hospital (39 people on trolleys); CUH (37), Naas General (34), St Vincent’s University Hospital (26); and Beaumont (25).

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