Hospitals are now in 'death zone' due to overcrowding
Hospitals are now operating "in the death zone" because they are so overcrowded, doctors have warned.
Occupancy levels in hospitals which are beyond 92.5pc have higher death rates, said Dr Ray Walley, President of the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO).
He also said many public patients are continuing to endure long waiting times with delays of over two years for cataract eye surgery in the Mater Hospital in Dublin.
"My experience is that waiting times for orthopaedic surgery are still a year-and-a-half.Waiting lists for MRI scans are still in excess of two years," he added.
Dr Walley was launching the IMO's pre-Budget submission calling for five immediate steps to "stop the crisis" including abolition of the prescription charge for medical card holders and an increase in hospital beds to make up for the 1,631 taken out since 2007.
Referring to waiting lists he said: "My understanding is that the numbers waiting two years or more have come down but the people waiting for 18 months are increasing. We are playing with deckchairs."
He insisted some people in north Dublin are still waiting four years for ear nose and throat procedures.
Dr Padraig McGarry, the IMO GP spokesman said a lot of patients are still on waiting lists to "get on waiting lists".
The Longford family doctor said: "In our area you can get a letter from the hospital saying it will be 52 weeks or 73 weeks or 102 weeks before you are seen in an outpatient clinic."
Health Minister Leo Varadkar has announced another €18m to ease the pressure on hospitals this winter.
He accused some senior doctors of not being around to discharge patients at weekends.
But consultants' spokesman Dr Peadar Gilligan said blaming doctors for the problems in the health service is akin to blaming firefighters for fires.
"We are doing what we can with the resources available to us. We have patients in pain on an ongoing basis because we cannot access the care they need.
"We need the system to be resourced.We have seen disimprovements in emergency departments," said Dr Gilligan, who was on call six out of the last eight days.