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File photo of St James Hospital Campus in Dublin Alamy

Record number of people treated in Irish hospitals last year, despite 'unacceptably long' waits

Demand at Emergency Departments increased again in the first 12 weeks of this year.

 A RECORD NUMBER of people were treated in Irish hospitals last year.

That is according to the latest figures by the HSE, which also show that almost 1.7 million people received emergency care in 2023, up by 29,000 on the previous year.

The HSE said that even in the first 12 weeks of this year, there’s been an increase in demand at Emergency Departments.

“There is no doubt that it is heartening with increases in 1000s attending there is still a 10% reduction on trolleys,” it said in a statement.

Delayed Transfers of Care are also down 30%, which the HSE says is due to “better coordination between our hospital and community systems”.

“The HSE acknowledges that unacceptably long waiting lists remain for many procedures and that our emergency departments continue to face sustained pressure,” it said.

“However the increase in the number of patients seen and treated reflects the investment in the waiting list action plans over the last number of years, which has delivered additional activity as well as facilitating a range of waiting list reduction measures and reform initiatives across hospital and community.”

There has also been a steady rise in the number of people receiving care at an injury unit, with 165,000 attendances last year, up from 147,000 in 2022 and up from 99,000 in 2019.

HSE CEO Bernard Gloster said that despite pressures, the “substantial funding” provided to the health service last year led to “very significant increases in activity”.


Just last week, the President of the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO), Denis McCauley, told the union’s annual conference that the healthcare system is being “undermined” by a lack of suitable beds, specialist consultants, and general practice doctors.

He said these structural issues have led to “frighteningly long” waiting lists.

There have been a string of serious issues within HSE-run hospitals over the last year, such as children suffering as they wait for life-changing surgery, and a sustained halt to some elective surgeries due to overcrowding.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly imposed a recruitment freeze, which unions of healthcare staff want scrapped.


McCauley said the introduction of a recommended 5,000 bed needs to take place immediately as capacity has breached its limits.

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