"Severely overcrowded": 38 on trolleys in Mullingar Hospital

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Figures from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) announced that Wednesday saw 677 people waiting on trolleys or in wards for a hospital bed around the country, with 592 still being stuck today.

There were 45 people waiting on trolleys in South Tipperary General Hospital this Tuesday morning as figures for hospitals serving the county continue to grow.

Across the border in Portlaoise Hospital, 25 patients are awaiting a bed, while there are 31 in a similar situation in Mullingar.

As the number of people waiting on trolleys and wards for a hospital bed fell below 500 on Friday, the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) said it was exasperated at comments by Mr Varadkar about the current overcrowding crisis.

The figures come as the INMO's annual figures show that nearly 100,000 people were waiting on a trolley or on a ward past year.

He said he would like to break the cycle of overcrowding in the health service and that capacity needs to be increased.

Meanwhile Temple Street Children's Hospital clinical director Dr Adrienne Foran said she was anxious that a flu outbreak could occur when schools return next week.

Overall in 2017, 98,981 admitted patients were recorded to have been awaiting a hospital bed, University Hospital Limerick topped the list with the highest annual number of 8869.

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The Taoiseach apologised to patients experiencing long delays in hospitals and expressed "regret and frustration" that there has not been an improvement despite increased investment.

One woman, who did not want to be named, said that she had been there for hours and expected that she wouldn't be able to go anytime soon.

Speaking on RTÉ's News at One, Damien McCallion said the measures included the rescheduling of some elective surgeries and increasing the access of hospital patients to home care.

It also said that children should not be brought on visits anywhere in the hospital.

MUH Clinical Director Dr Kieran O'Connor said: "In this context, visiting is being restricted to the hospital in the interest of patient safety".

The HSE, meanwhile, is urging high-risk groups to get the flu vaccine as the flu has started actively circulating in Ireland.

"The HSE has in the last fortnight also been notified of a small number of deaths directly related to influenza (less than 10)".

January typically sees the highest numbers on the trolley watch as the flu virus peaks and leads to increased demand for in-patient services on the already under pressure hospital system.

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