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Hospital overcrowding

Donnelly: Emergency Department Taskforce will meet next Monday

The Emergency Taskforce was formed in 2015 to tackle emergency department overcrowding.

A MEETING OF the Emergency Department Taskforce has been convened for Monday 18 September, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly has confirmed.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio’s News at One, the minister said that he had discussed the matter with INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha, and would be attending himself.

The Emergency Taskforce was formed in 2015 to tackle emergency department overcrowding. It is co-chaired by the HSE’s Chief Operations Officer, and the INMO’s General Secretary.

This morning, the INMO called for a meeting of the taskforce to be convened this week.

In a statement, it said that the country is in a “perilous situation” when it comes to hospital overcrowding.

“We haven’t yet reached the midpoint of the month and we have already seen over 3,335 patients on trolleys, chairs or other inappropriate bed spaces so far in September. Over 64 children have been on trolleys so far this month, with schools only back in earnest in the last week.

“Nurses are once again finding themselves of having to apologise to patients and their families because of the state of hospital overcrowding,” it said.

The HSE has confirmed to The Journal that they have in place multiple plans outside of the taskforce to tackle hospital overcrowding.

“Two parallel processes are underway – an immediate HSE Urgent and Emergency Care operational plan, which outlines key measures that are underway in 2023, and a new three-year integrated UEC plan.

“Both plans aim to improve Urgent and Emergency Care services, with a particular focus on emergency departments, timely discharges and patient flows through the system – from home, to primary and community care, to EDs if needed, through hospital and discharge to ongoing supports,” it said.

Hospital overcrowding has been one of the main issues facing the health service for a number of years.

According to the HSE, hospital admissions for 2023 are 11% higher than they were in 2019.

The worst hit hospitals are all outside of the capital. University Hospital Limerick continues to be a blackspot, with 1,885 patients without bed in August.

Limerick’s tally was double that of the next worst location, Cork University Hospital – 984 – which was closely followed by University Hospital Galway – 920.

Sligo University Hospital, and Letterkenny University Hospital completed the top five.

However, Donnelly maintained that the trend was improving. In Limerick for instance, he said that while admissions to the emergency department had seen a “very large increase”, the number of those patients who were forced to sleep on trolleys or in corridors was decreasing.

He said that this was due to a “big increase in resources”.

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