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640 patients without beds as HSE warns public to avoid emergency departments if possible

Several hospitals are reporting very high levels of activity this week driven by high rates of viruses like flu.

640 PATIENTS ARE being treated without beds in hospitals around the country today, according to the INMO, as the HSE warns the public to avoid emergency departments if possible due to overcrowding.

Hospitals experiencing the most pressure today Cork University Hospital, Tallaght University Hospital, University Hospital Limerick, Galway University Hospital and Letterkenny University Hospital, according to the HSE.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation’s trolley count put the number of patients being treated without a bed at 640 today, including 27 children.

INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said that trolley numbers have been “very high over the last few days”.

Ní Sheaghda said that overcrowding records have been broken in Cork University Hospital (94 patients on trolleys today) and University Hospital Limerick (132 patients yesterday).

“This is leading to very dangerous situations for patients and nurses who are trying their best to provide safe care.”

The HSE issued a statement today to alert the public that several hospitals are reporting very high levels of activity this week driven by high rates of viruses like flu.

The health service said that at 8am this morning, there were 483 patients on trolleys – 366 in emergency departments and 117 on wards. 

The latest data on flu cases suggest that influenza levels have peaked but it’s expected that high levels of demand on the health service from winter viruses will continue for the next several weeks.

The HSE is urging members of the public to consider other available care options, such injury units, GPs, and local pharmacies if they have a minor ailment.

HSE Chief Operations Officer Damien McCallion said there is “significant pressure on our EDs at the moment with increased presentations”.

“Whilst we ask the public to seek alternative services for non-urgent care, we want to reassure them that anyone who is seriously injured or ill, or worried their life may be at risk, should to go to the emergency department without delay,” McCallion said.

“By attending the GP, pharmacy or injury unit if you can, you will help alleviate pressure in the ED, which will help us get patients out of the ED and on to wards.”

He said that surge protocols, as part of the Urgent and Emergency Care plan, have been implemented as needed to reduce the number of patients waiting on trolleys for an acute bed and patients over the age of 75 waiting in emergency departments to be admitted for ongoing care and treatment.

“The HSE also appeals to the public to adhere to the public safety advice regarding the stormy weather and to avoid putting themselves in a position where they may have an accident or require emergency services.”

A Limerick city councillor has said his 87-year-old grandfather spent 100 hours on a trolley in University Hospital Limerick, describing the health service as being “on its knees”.

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