Latest: All non-urgent operations cancelled as HSE given funding to clear backlog

Update 6.24pm: A total of €5m of funding is to given to the HSE to speed up the discharge of patients.

Latest: All non-urgent operations cancelled as HSE given funding to clear backlog

Update 6.24pm: A total of €5m of funding is to given to the HSE to speed up the discharge of patients.

Some 714 patients were on trolleys and wards this morning, a new high of patients without a bed.

John Conaghan from the HSE says all non-urgent surgeries are being cancelled for the time being.

"We're very keen that those patients who require urgent operations such as cancer, etc., proceed as normal," he said.

"Each local decision is made in conjunction with clinicians, about which patients are the most urgent, which patients need to be seen quickly.

"So that's the kind of decision that's best left at the local level. But all non-urgent operations are cancelled."

Earlier:'This could have been avoided': Record numbers waiting for hospital beds

Update 1.45pm:The General Secretary of the INMO Phil Ni Sheaghda has said the situation with 714 people waiting for beds in the country's hospitals could have been avoided.

She said: "I wrote to (the HSE) last Monday (March 5) saying the health services would not return to normal for two weeks after the storm (and asking) can you please put plans in place to make sure you're only dealing with absolute emergencies?

"They took the view they would leave it to each hospital and the situation developed over the week, (with numbers on trolleys) rising every single day. Again, we corresponded with them saying 'you have to intervene. this is not good enough.'

"Today, we have 714 (people waiting for a bed)."

Earlier:There are 714 people waiting for beds on trolleys or in wards in Irish hospitals today, according to the latest figures from the INMO.

University Hospital Limerick is the highest with 80 people waiting on a bed.

It is followed by University Hospital Galway (45), Cork University Hospital (43) and Tallaght Hospital (40).

There are 15 children waiting on a bed in paediatric hospitals. There are 7 at Temple Street Children's Hospital and 8 at Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Crumlin.

It comes as over 600 people were waiting for beds every day last week.

Added 1.30pm:Fianna Fáil Health Spokesperson Billy Kelleher has described the latest INMO figures, as “absolutely deplorable”.

“Last week was the worst week ever experienced for Emergency Department overcrowding. Today we are seeing the worst day ever. It's truly shocking”, he said.

“Not only are the figures themselves completely unacceptable, but the length of time that patients are being kept on trolleys is extremely worrying. I have heard reports of a 64-year-old man having spent 109 hours on a trolley in Tallaght hospital - that's over four and a half days. This is surely some breach of human rights?

“The Minister for Health and the HSE have completely failed people this winter. It is now the middle of March and the situation is actually getting worse.

“It is critical that the capacity review, published earlier this year, is acted on as a matter of urgency. To have 714 people awaiting admission shows the distance we need to go before our health system is able to cope with the demands that are being put on it. A population that is getting progressively older means that these problems are not likely to go away soon and the Minister must act without delay”.

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