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Trolley wait hits record numbers

The largest ever number of hospital patients to be treated on trolleys was recorded today, a full 10% higher than yesterday.

Image: Nerissa's Ring via Creative Commons

Updated 18.21

A RECORD NUMBER of 568 hospital patients were being accommodated on trolleys in the country’s hospitals today, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation has reported.

The total is the largest number ever recorded as being unable to be offered a hospital bed, and is over 10% higher than the 511 people who were on trolleys yesterday, at 511. That earlier number was another record.

The number of people awaiting treatment on trolleys is recorded by by the INMO’s Trolley Watch, which began in 2004. Emergency medicine consultants have warned that growing levels of the H1N1 virus will mean that the situation is likely to worsen in the coming weeks, reports irishhealth.com.

This afternoon, however, RTÉ News reports that the number of patients on trolleys around the country had fallen back to 259. Despite the easing of the pressures, however, elective surgery had been cancelled in hospitals around the country.

Affected hospitals included Beaumont Hospital in Dublin, Cork University Hospital, UCH in Galway, and hospitals in Cavan, Drogheda and Limerick.

In 2006, when the trolley wait figure reached 500, Minister for Health Mary Harney declared the situation a “national emergency”.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland this morning, Dr Anthony Dempsey said: “This is not a local issue – this is a national issue”. He added that the situation was likely to continue for “a few days”.

Cork University Hospital saw the highest number of trolley patients, with 45 people being forced to be treated on trolleys; meanwhile, Naas General Hospital saw 40 patients on trolleys.

In Limerick Hospital, 51 patients were treated on a mixture of trolleys and emergency beds placed in corridors.

A spokesperson for the INMO said people should contact their GP or out of hours services if the first instance if they fall ill and only go to Emergency Departments in emergencies, RTÉ reports.

Consultants have warned that the effects of the H1N1 virus, junior doctor shortages and bed capacity issues were beginning to bite.

Additional reporting by Gavan Reilly.

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