Hospital overcrowding crisis escalates

Letterkenny General Hospital.
Letterkenny General Hospital.
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A total of 31 patients were on trollies at Letterkenny General Hospital on Tuesday morning as the overcrowding crisis escalated across the country.

According to the Irish Nurse and Midwives Organisation, 27 patients were on trollies and 4 were in wards awaiting a permanent bed at Letterkenny General Hospital.

The total of patients on trollies nationally is 601 - passing the 600 barrier for the first time.

The HSE has said that in order to deal with the current level of overcrowding, all hospitals have invoked escalation plans .

These include the opening of additional overflow areas, curtailing non-emergency surgery, providing additional diagnostics and “strengthening discharge planning.”

They added that one of the key factors contributing to the overcrowding and “increase in pressure” in emergency departments was the “older age profile of patients presenting and the complexity of issues they have.”

They added: “As a result, hospitals are experiencing delays in discharging these patients home or to other appropriate settings.”

The HSE said the pressure on Emergency Departments is “likely to continue in the weeks ahead as the seasonal surge in demand continues.”

They said: “The numbers of patients on trolleys is higher than the same time last year, and it is for this reason that Minister Varadkar recently convened and attended the Emergency Taskforce. This Taskforce brings together representatives from unions (including the INMO and IMO), clinicians and HSE representatives, in order to develop practical responses to the increasing challenges facing our publicly-funded hospitals.”

The HSE and Saolta Healthcare Group apologised to patients and their families for “any distress” caused by the delays experienced in EDs.

They encouraged people to contact their GP in the first instance “where they can be directed appropriately to services such as rapid access clinics, day hospital services for older people and acute medical assessment units, as appropriate.”