Belfast Telegraph

Overcrowding in hospitals ‘reaches record levels’

The Health Service Executive was forced to cancel all non-urgent operations on Monday to ease the crisis.

The Government has been urged to declare an emergency status in hospitals as overcrowding reaches record levels.

The number of patients on trolleys or on wards waiting for admission to a bed reached a new record of 714 on Monday, according to figures from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO).

To help hospitals cope the Health Service Executive was forced to cancel all non-urgent operations on Monday.

Phil Ni Sheaghdha called for emergency response plans to be put in operation (Niall Carson/PA)

INMO general secretary Phil Ni Sheaghdha said warnings were not heeded and called for emergency response plans to be put in operation.

“We saw record trolley figures last week with a total of 3,112 in just one week and today each daily total from that week has been surpassed by the extraordinary figure of 714 admitted patients on trolleys today,” said Ms Ni Sheaghdha.

She added: “This upsurge was predictable and the INMO warned against inaction or insufficient action in the wake of Storm Emma.

“It is unfortunate for both healthcare staff and patients that these warnings were not heeded and that emergency measures sought have not been put in place.”

Ms Ni Sheaghdha said that the INMO are, yet again, “calling for emergency status to be immediately declared and emergency response plans put into operation”.

Health Minister Simon Harris has allocated an extra 5m euro to ease hospital overcrowding (Michelle Devane/PA)

The Taoiseach said the trolley situation had deteriorated in the past three months.

“It’s not entirely clear why that is, given that additional beds have been provided to hospitals,” Leo Varadkar said in Oklahoma.

“Nearly an extra 200 beds and additional resources too,” he added.

“In part I think it is probably because of a very long flu season but that’s not an excuse and doesn’t make it acceptable.”

Minister for Health Simon Harris has said he has allocated an extra 5m euro to ease hospital overcrowding.

He said the money will go towards more home care packages, home help hours and transitional care beds.

Mr Harris blamed the current overcrowding crisis on a backlog built up by Storm Emma that has not been cleared.

There were 45 patients waiting on trolleys in University Hospital Galway on Monday (Niall Carson/PA)

The latest INMO figures showed that University Hospital Limerick had the highest number of admitted patients with a total of 80 on trolleys at 8am on Monday.

There were 45 patients waiting at University Hospital Galway, 43 at Cork University Hospital and 40 at Tallaght Hospital.

Fifteen patients at Temple Street and Crumlin children’s hospitals were also waiting admission to a bed.

Figures by the Health Service Executive on Monday morning showed there were 534 patients on trolleys in hospital emergency departments.

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