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Wednesday 4 October 2023 Dublin: 12°C
/Photocall Ireland
# no beds
Overcrowding crisis: Surgeries cancelled at Beaumont as trolley figures remain high
There were a total of 584 people waiting for available hospital beds as of this morning.

Updated at midday

MANAGERS AT BEAUMONT Hospital in Dublin have cancelled all elective surgeries for this week in response to overcrowding.

Surgeries for cancer patients will continue as normal.

The hospital, which has one of the busiest emergency departments in country, has been struggling to cope with the influx of patients in recent weeks.

According to a statement:

“Delayed discharges, in particular, have led to considerable strain on resources.

Beaumont generally has an average of 96 patients awaiting discharge – this is the equivalent of three wards.  On occasions, the number of delayed discharges has increased to 110.

Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda made a decision to hold no elective surgeries for the first two weeks in January as part of its winter plan.

The decision was made several months ago, a spokesperson for the hospital said.

A statement from the INMO said there were a total of 584 people waiting for available hospital beds as of this morning — a slight reduction on yesterday’s figure, which topped 600.

That included 30 people at Beaumont, and 37 at Our Lady of Lourdes in Drogheda.

Not safe

Speaking this morning, Director General of the HSE Tony O’Brien said he agreed with the assessment of one of his top advisors that the situation in Irish hospitals “couldn’t be categorised as safe”.

Colm Henry, clinical advisor for acute hospitals, made the comments on Prime Time last night.

Speaking on Morning Ireland, O’Brien said:

 He’s right.

He added:

Clearly if we can bring down the number of patients in emergency departments it will increase safety.

Mark Stedman / Photocall Ireland Tony O'Brien Mark Stedman / Photocall Ireland / Photocall Ireland

O’Brien said the 28 emergency departments in the country were “all experiencing slightly different levels of stress, demand and overcrowding”.

Addressing this issue will undoubtedly improve the safety of the services.

O’Brien said that as measures taken by the HSE took effect, the numbers on trolleys should begin to come down later this week.

However, he warned:

There is a further risk next week, but all of the measures that are being taken are designed exactly to bring down overcrowding in emergency departments.

He said that any patient waiting too long in and ED was not getting the best care that they could, and that even if the overall number went down it was ”not a total solution to the problem”.

He agreed that the trolley numbers could theoretically be higher next week, but stressed that everything hospitals were doing was aimed at making sure that didn’t happen.


Asked about the issue of funding for health services this morning, Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin said his department had been able to provide a supplementary Budget “much larger than normal” to relieve pressure on the system.

Health Minister Leo Varadkar was granted an extra €680 million in December —  almost €200 more than the figure he had been lobbying for.

“Bluntly, the year before that I would have been able to talk to the Department of Health and say we’ll give you some easement at the end of the year,” Howlin told Pat Kenny on Newstalk.

Howlin said he understood the numbers presenting at emergency departments in recent weeks were “50 per cent more than normal”.

I don’t know why that is because there’s no particular pandemic of flu or anything like that but that’s happening and you need to deal with that.

Howlin said figures from the HSE showed there were 600 people in hospital in acute beds who shouldn’t be there.

He said there needed to be a “match-up” between the numbers on trolleys and the numbers still waiting to be discharged.

We need to find suitable set down beds for those 600 people to be discharged from the acute hospital sector and that is the priority of the HSE now.

Minister Varadkar is due back at his desk today, and is expected to make a detailed statement on the overcrowding situation later.

The Department’s spokesperson said that Varadkar had been kept abreast of the situation over recent days. It’s understood the Fine Gael TD was in the United States.

Read: Over 600 patients are waiting for hospital beds around the country

Read: A HSE manager was asked EIGHT TIMES whether hospitals are safe

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