HSE considers using prefabs to ease trolley crisis
Plans to set up specially designed prefabs in some hospital grounds to relieve the trolley crisis are to be looked into by the HSE.
A HSE spokesman told the Irish Independent yesterday that it will shortly evaluate a series of bids it received in response to a tender to provide the modular accommodation.
Hospital overcrowding has escalated rapidly and doctors have warned that the situation could cost the lives of more than 300 patients. There were 347 patients on trolleys across the country yesterday - despite a promise in the Government's winter initiative that the numbers would not exceed 236 a day from early December.
A spokesman said yesterday the pledged figure remained a target.
Asked about progress in the wake of the tender for prefabs, he said the HSE "will start the tender evaluation process and it is intended to conclude in early December".
The prefabs would contain single en-suite rooms or four bedrooms. All of them would be fitted with standard bathrooms and showers.
The temporary accommodation would be used for patients who are mobile and need a short stay. This could include patients who have broken their wrists or ankles.
Other suitable patients would be those waiting for test results or having a course of antibiotics.
The prefabs could have between 10 and 60 beds, depending on the site.
The tender also asked that the buildings have space in which the patients can relax, as well as a nurse's station and a family room.
The units would be drawn on when there is overcrowding in some of the worst-hit hospitals.
The temporary buildings can be constructed at low cost and also removed, which would benefit the cash-strapped HSE.
If the HSE decides to go ahead with the plan, staff would have to be persuaded to work in the new buildings, which would have to accommodate only low-risk patients.
Many hospitals continued to struggle yesterday and as the weather deteriorates there will be an inevitable surge in patients who need to be admitted with various winter-related illnesses.
The worst-hit hospital yesterday was in Tullamore, Co Offaly, where there were 28 patients waiting for a bed.
Other hospitals also had patients enduring long hours waiting for a bed, including in hospitals in Limerick, Cork and Galway.
Many planned operations had to be cancelled to make room for emergency patients.