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Hospitals reopen closed beds as VHI announces price hike

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation says the health service crisis saw a record number of people waiting on hospital trolleys yesterday.

Image: markhillary via Creative Commons

A DAY AFTER A RECORD 569 people were left waiting for a hospital bed on trolleys, VHI is due to announce a raft of price increases.

VHI’s increase comes after the government raised the levy on health insurance companies which the Irish Times reported last month would increase from €185 to €205 per adult covered, and €55 to €66 for children.

Insurance companies also face a 21% rise in the cost of private beds in public hospitals.

Newstalk reports that the price hike will cost a family of two adults and two children up to €300 more on their premiums.

Meanwhile the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) said the bed crisis should be treated with the same urgency as the government is treating the economic crisis. Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland yesterday, Liam Doran, general secretary of the INMO, blamed political neglect, indifference and budget cuts for the health crisis.

Hospitals have begun reopening closed beds to cope with overcrowding in emergency departments, the Irish Times reports. The HSE urged people who need medical advice to contact their GP and to keep emergency departments for emergencies only.

The Department of Health said in a statement that emergency departments can experience increases in activity due to seasonal factors, and hospitals are using a number of approaches to tackle the issue:

Individual hospitals are managing the current situation through a range of responses to help ensure that those coming through the ED can be treated as quickly as possible. These include opening closed beds, cancellation and deferral of elective procedures and the use of day wards for ED activity.

Hospitals will also take all possible steps to free up beds by carrying out further ward rounds and discharging in-patients where this is appropriate. They will also use other means of meeting the needs of emergency patients including acute medical assessment units and surgical assessment units.

Fine Gael’s spokesperson for health James Reilly TD blamed what he described as the government presiding “over a policy of hitting the front line” for the current health crisis. Labour’s Jan O’Sullivan said that the latest figures for people on trolleys is higher than that which prompted Minister Mary Harney to declare a state of emergency in 2006.

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