Hospital overcrowding is now ‘likely to get worse’, says Donnelly – – Our News, Your Views

Hospital overcrowding is now ‘likely to get worse’, says Donnelly

Health Secretary Stephen Donnelly described the overcrowded situation at hospitals as a ‘perfect storm’ of flu, RSV, Covid, as well as the normal pressures hospitals face.

The minister said the HSE believed the situation “is likely to get worse” and that the system “likely to see more pressure”. He said it assumes the flu epidemic hasn’t peaked yet.

Donnelly’s comments set a record: according to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, there are 931 hospitalized patients waiting for a hospital bed.

That’s 171 more cases than the previous overcrowding record of 760 cases set on December 19.

Mr. Donnelly met with HSE senior management. He said he would update Cabinet on the situation tomorrow and meet again with HSE management on Friday.

The minister visited a number of hospitals today including Dublin’s St Vincent’s and Beaumont Hospital, where he spoke to reporters this evening.

He said the system has been strained despite “unprecedented investment” in healthcare since the Covid-19 pandemic.

The hardest hit hospital is University Hospital Limerick with 97 patients waiting.

Other hospitals hit hard include University Hospital Cork with 74 waiting patients, St Vincent’s University Hospital Dublin with 56 patients and University Hospital Galway and Letterkenny University Hospital both with 52.

According to INMO, 767 patients are on trolleys in emergency rooms and 164 on trolleys elsewhere in hospitals. 26 children were also hospitalized without beds.

The Health Service Executive urges people seeking medical care to consider all options before visiting a hospital emergency department after it will be “one of the busiest ever periods experienced by the health service”, reports RTE.

In a statement, the HSE said some patients will “regrettably experience long wait times in our emergency departments, urgent patients will always be prioritised for treatment and care”, reports RTE.

It has been noted that community pharmacies, out-of-hours general practice and general practice services, and minor injury units may be visited by sick people.

INMO requires that wearing masks during meetings is mandatory

Mr Donnelly said he did not expect any change in the chief medical officer’s public health advice regarding mask requirements in congregated settings.

His comments come as the secretary general of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, Phil Ní Sheaghdha, called for mask wearing to be made mandatory at all meetings.

“The public health advice to Government, to me at the moment, is not to move to mask mandates but obviously we will keep the situation under review on a daily and weekly basis,” said Mr Donnelly this evening, reports RTE.

Speaking to RTÉ’s News at One, Ms Ní Sheaghdha said the INMO had written to Donnelly asking for a mask mandate, an appeal later supported by the Irish Trade Unions Congress.

“We know that masks are cheap, they are efficient, and that when our hospitals can’t cope, the Government has to intervene and provide assistance to our hospitals in a different way,” Ms Ní Sheaghdha said, reports RTE.

Speaking to RTÉ’s Today with Claire Byrne, communications manager for the Irish Association of Emergency Medicine, Dr. Fergal Hickey said calling the HSE was not the right thing to do as many people do not have or do not have access to a general practitioner The injury units are not suitable for people with respiratory problems.

“I think this is done in the absence of being able to do anything else”, he said, reports RTE.

Dr Hickey said Ireland has a shortage of acute care hospital beds and systems have “fell spectacularly” as a result.

Emergency medicine consultant, Dr. Mick Molloy said people will die needlessly because they are not getting the care they should be getting.

Speaking to RTÉ’s Drivetime, the former chairman of the Irish Medical Organization said the overcrowding problem had been anticipated.

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