More patients on trolleys despite cancelled surgery
Almost 100 of the promised 301 extra hospital beds are still not open as flu and other winter illnesses led to another rise in patients waiting on trolleys for hours yesterday.
The HSE confirmed that just 202 of these new beds are now available for patients.
This is despite its own figures showing 461 people were waiting on trolleys yesterday morning, with 203 waiting for a bed for more than nine hours.
A number of hospitals had to issue public notices asking patients to go to their GP or out-of-hours co-op where possible.
The rise in overcrowding comes despite the insistence by hospitals that the measures agreed with nurses to ease congestion - in return for deferring their strike - are being implemented on the ground.
This is leading to thousands of planned operations for patients on public waiting lists being cancelled.
Prof Michael O'Keeffe, an opthalmologist at the Mater Hospital, said around 70 patients have had their surgeries cancelled over two days.
"This is unacceptable and is not solving the problem of overcrowding," he warned.
Cork University Hospital had the highest number on trolleys yesterday, according to figures from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO).
The union's nurses said overall there were 536 people on trolleys yesterday compared to 522 yesterday on Tuesday.
Tallaght Hospital emergency consultant, Dr James Gray, said he has emailed the chief executive, Health Minister Leo Varadkar, health watchdog Hiqa and the HSE about his concerns about overcrowding.
"We have four patients who need a bed in an ambulatory unit of the emergency department. One is there for over 20 hours.
"It only has one entry or exit door and should be only for transient cases only.
"Patients' dignity is being violated and they are subjected to repeated deprivation of sleep through constant light and noise. There is elder abuse with the most vulnerable elderly patients on trolleys for hours on end, and is particularly upsetting."
He said patients are often in corridors and other non-designated patient areas where there is no dignity, privacy, or confidentiality.
They are also an infection-control risk.
"They are subjected to sensory torture by having to experience constant light and noise, sometimes for days on end."
A patient survey of services in Tallaght Hospital involving 426 interviews showed that 94pc of inpatients said their care was good, very good or excellent.
However, they wanted a number of improvements, including more clinics to reduce outpatient waiting times.
They also wanted a review of total care services to increase the number of people available to talk to patients about their concerns and fears.