Updated at 8.57pm
ONE MAN SAID the emergency department at Beaumont Hospital made him think of the frontline of a warzone.
Speaking to TheJournal.ie from the hospital this afternoon, the man said:
“I was here on Monday night and I walked out to go to the toilet and when I opened the door and saw all the trolleys in the emergency department and all the elderly people – the shock hit me because I wasn’t used to it.
An image of the frontline, the world wars, that image hit me. It’s a massive amount of people all on trolleys. It’s scary.
“I was making my way through the trolleys and people were just on chairs, one guy was lying on the floor.”
Another young man from Skerries, Dean Derham, told this website, “There are people stuck to the walls and everything. It’s a disaster, the place is just packed.
There’s a lot of people sleeping against the walls and on the chairs. They could be here a long time.
‘Running from patient to patient’
The HSE has warned that emergency departments are “exceptionally busy”, leading to significant delays for those attending, as well as patients already waiting for a hospital bed.
Main hospitals in Dublin and Cork have taken steps to combat overcrowding this week – with non-elective surgeries postponed at the Mater and Beaumont in Dublin.
At the emergency department in Beaumont, Bridget Keogh told TheJournal.ie how her 76-year-old mother arrived by ambulance at 5.30 pm on Wednesday with heart problems and was put onto a chair for over 30 hours:
She was put on a chair until yesterday and then she got a trolley and now she’s been on a trolley since yesterday. So she’s still on a trolley.
“She is being seen to but they say she may get a bed today or maybe tomorrow, we don’t know.”
Keogh also told this website that she brought her mum for a shower because the staff are run off their feet and don’t have time.
Her brother added, “The staff couldn’t do enough for you, they have to deal with it as well. They had to put us out last night because there just wasn’t room for family members and you can see the stress they’re under. They’re just running from patient to patient.”
Meanwhile, the emergency department in the Mater hospital looked surprisingly calm from the outset this morning.
The hospital was the first in Dublin to cancel non-urgent surgeries, a step taken to alleviate pressure.
The HSE says this is in line with agreed procedures. Patients who are affected have been contacted and told that their appointments will be rescheduled.
The move seems to have offered relief to emergency patients and staff.
TheJournal.ie observed about 14 people in the waiting room of the department, two of those were asleeep in their chairs and they appeared to be using the area for shelter.
Once inside the emergency department, all the cubicles had patients in them but there was no obvious signs of intense overcrowding.
There were only three visible trolleys on the corridor and they were all empty at the time.
An elderly couple told this website that they came in last night and were seen to within about 15 minutes. They were waiting for a taxi to leave by 10.40 this morning.
One man described how he had arrived up with his father from Cavan at around 10am and that his dad was triaged within five minutes.
However, another man described how he arrived at the Mater Emergency Department at around 6am and had to wait until 10.30am before he was seen to.
In the first 20 days of 2016 there have been 64,952 attendances across all EDs – up 5,415 on 2015, according to the HSE.
The HSE also says there has been a surge in the number of people presenting with flu-like symptoms at Irish hospitals.
Hospitals are also requesting that, where appropriate, members of the public explore all other options available to them prior to attending the ED if their needs are not urgent.
In general EDs are reporting a 10% increase overall in attendances. Some hospitals are reporting increases in excess of that – namely:
- Connolly Hospital, Blanchardstown 14%
- Our Lady of Lourdes, Drogheda 21%
- Cork University Hospital 14%
- Beaumont Hospital 12%
This afternoon’s statement added that flu like rates have quadrupled since the end of the year.
Flu like illness rates have quadrupled and are now at equivalent levels to end of February 2015 and our hospitals are reporting increased prevalence of patients presenting with respiratory/flu like symptoms.
“In particular, the HSE would like to remind people that there are now a number of minor and local injury units to provide treatment and care for routine non urgent matters.
These include the Rapid Access Clinic in Smithfield, Dublin; Mercy Urgent Care Centre, Gurranabraher, Cork; and the Minor Injury Unit at Louth County Hospital, Dundalk.
Originally published 3.21pm. Additional reporting by Daragh Brophy.