Rise in flu pushes A&E trolley crisis back to the brink
Serious levels of overcrowding in hospital emergency departments returned yesterday as some beds had to be closed due to the number of patients with flu.
Nationally, 522 people were on trolleys, according to figures from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO).
This is the third-highest trolley toll this month. Earlier this month, the numbers rose to 558.
The congestion comes more than a week after the nurses' union agreed to defer its strike to allow for proposed measures to ease the trolley crisis in hospitals to be implemented.
The HSE's own figures showed that around 219 patients across the country were waiting more than nine hours for a bed.
This compares to 201 waiting more than nine hours last Tuesday.
Beaumont Hospital in Dublin, which was worst hit with 44 patients on trolleys, said it had to temporarily close three beds due to flu which affects patient flow through the hospital.
A spokeswoman said it had a high number of patients attending who needed admission. The hospital is implementing a series of measures to reduce overcrowding including earlier discharge, accessing nursing home beds and cancelled planned operations due for today.
The HSE said that, according to its figures, 436 people were on trolleys yesterday morning. There had been an increase in attendances at Mullingar, Connolly, Cork University Hospital, University Hospital Waterford, Beaumont, St Vincent's and St James's Hospital. Hospitals are reporting increased numbers of patients presenting with respiratory or flu-like symptoms, said a spokesman.
Nurses in the INMO are currently balloting on whether to accept the settlement measures and a result of that vote will be known at the end of the month.
The failure to bring about a significant fall in trolley numbers is disappointing with hospitals across the country under pressure.
Hospitals that suffered serious overcrowding included University Hospital Galway, Cork University Hospital, Sligo General Hospital and the Mater Hospital in Dublin.
Senior managers and nursing union representatives must meet weekly to review how the relief measures are working.