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Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly speaking outside Beaumont Hospital this evening Sasko Lazarov/
Under Pressure

Pressure on hospitals due to respiratory illnesses will likely get worse, Donnelly says

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said the HSE doesn’t believe that the flu wave has peaked.

MINISTER FOR HEALTH Stephen Donnelly has said that the HSE believes the pressure on hospitals due to respiratory illnesses will likely get worse.

This comes as Covid-19 and influenza cases continue to increase rapidly, while notifications of RSV – which had been declining for several weeks – are also increasing.

Nearly 1,500 people are in hospitals with these viruses today. As of 11.30am, there were 686 patients in hospital with Covid-19, 28 of whom were in intensive care.

Speaking to reporters outside Beaumont Hospital this evening, Donnelly said: “The advice I have from the Chief Medical Officer is the modelling is difficult in terms of being accurate.

“However, what I can tell you is the HSE’s view today, when I met them, was that this is likely to get worse, we are likely to see more pressure.”

Donnelly said the HSE doesn’t believe that the flu wave has peaked.

“What we want to see happen obviously as quickly as possible is that the flu wave peaks and then recedes because what I’m hearing repeatedly from the nurses, from the consultants in the hospitals is more and more patients are coming in with the flu, and particularly those who are older or those who have other underlying conditions, it is making them quite sick,” Donnelly said. 

Over 931 patients are without beds in Irish hospitals today, according to the INMO.

This is the highest number of patients that have been without a hospital bed since the trade union began counting trolleys in 2006.

Thr INMO said that 767 patients are on trolleys in emergency departments and 164 are on trolleys elsewhere in hospitals. A total of 26 children have been admitted to hospital without a bed, the organisation added.

Commenting on the trolley figures, Phil Ní Sheaghdha, General Secretary of the INMO, called on the Government to “make difficult decisions including the return of mandated mask-wearing in congregated settings”.

“We know that one of the main pressure points in our health service is the rise of respiratory infections. Asking people to return to mask-wearing in busy congregated settings is a simple measure.

“Over the coming days we need to see real tangible plans and decisions at a national level about the ensured safety in our acute public hospitals,” she said.

Donnelly this evening said that the official advice to Government is that mask mandates are not required.

“I spoke to the INMO about this earlier on this morning. I spoke to the Chief Medical Officer in the last few hours on exactly that,” Donnelly told reporters.

“So I don’t anticipate any change coming in terms of the public health advice from the Chief Medical Officer,” Donnelly said.

“However, I want to fully acknowledge the INMO’s concerns, I think they are playing a very constructive role. I got a letter in from them today, we had a good chat earlier on today. They’re looking for solutions,” the Minister said. 

“The public health advice to Government, to me at the moment, it is not a move to mask mandates, but obviously we will keep the situation under review on a daily and on a weekly basis.” 

Includes reporting by Órla Ryan, Jane Moore and Press Association

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