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Friday 24 March 2023 Dublin: 8°C
# Emergency Departments
'Failing Ireland's children': Hospitals postpone surgeries due to virus, flu and vomiting bug outbreaks
Fianna Fáil’s Micheál Martin hit out against the Taoiseach today stating that waiting lists for children are “quite shocking”.

IRELAND’S THREE MAIN children’s hospitals have begun postponing elective procedures due to a rise in Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), flu and the winter vomiting bug.

Fianna Fáil’s Micheál Martin hit out against the Taoiseach today stating that waiting lists for children are “quite shocking”.

“More than 30,000 of those 117,000 children have been waiting for more than a year. A significant number of them are in serious pain, with many becoming sicker as they wait. Many will need further and more serious interventions by the time they are finally seen,” he said.

He accused the government of “failing” Ireland’s children, stating that the “picture is very bleak indeed for children in this country when it comes to accessing our health services”.

The Taoiseach acknowledged that emergency departments, including children’s emergency departments, “are under a significant amount of pressure”.

“The pressure is principally linked to a significant increase in the number of people affected by the respiratory syncytial virus, RSV, or the norovirus in recent days, with increased attendances by children with a chest infection, the vomiting bug and so on,” he confirmed. 

As a result, the children’s hospitals will be restricting elective access, he said, stating that urgent operations will go ahead.

Leo Varadkar said there will be restrictions on elective access until the number attending decreases.

“That is not unusual – it often happens during the winter period or when there is an outbreak of a virus. It is necessary in order to reduce overall demand on hospital services at a time when demand they experience increased demand because of a virus outbreak. It is also necessary for reasons of infection control. It is not a good idea to bring patients in for operations when a hospital is full of patients who have an infectious disease,” he said. 

The Taoiseach said the expansion of the children’s vaccines programme to include the rotavirus vaccine will reduce attendances by children with the vomiting bug.

He said there is more capacity than last year due to the opening of the urgent care centre and outpatient centre at Connolly Hospital. 

While it is only open on weekdays, he said he hopes to extend the opening hours to weekends as soon as possible.

Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald also criticised the government’s health policy, stating that emergency departments have been described by parents of some children who have had to wait for a bed in hospital as “war zones”. She pointed out that of the 660 people waiting on trollies today in Irish hospitals, 33 are children.

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