Thursday 21 March 2019

'Children waiting on trolleys is a new phenomenon', says leading doctor as trolley crisis continues

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Children waiting on trolleys in hospital is a "new phenomenon" that has been noted by medical professionals the head of an association representing emergency doctors.

On Monday the number of people waiting on a hospital beds reached a record high of 656, ahead of the peak flu season.

GPs have reported that a spike in flu cases is putting additional strain on services - the latest data on flu is due to be released today.

Meanwhile, the traditional rush of patients to hospital emergency departments (EDs) following the Christmas and new year break reached a record high of 656 patients waiting on trolleys to be admitted – up from 612 a year ago.

However, Dr Emily O’Connor, president of the Irish Association of Emergency Medicine, said a worrying new development was for young patients to be waiting on trolleys at children’s hospitals.

Last month, an outbreak of a viral infection known as respiratory syncytial virus strained resources at the three hospitals.

“It happened a bit over the last number of years but by December all out paediatric emergency colleagues were telling us they had trolley waits,” she told the Irish Independent.

“For the paediatric hospitals to have patients waiting on trolleys, that’s a new phenomenon.”

In a statement, a spokeswoman for the three children’s hospitals said the number of patients on trolleys across the three EDs was “very low”.

The latest figures from the INMO showed St Luke’s Hospital in Kilkenny was the worst affected yesterday with 57 people on trolleys. It was followed by University Hospital Limerick where 55 patients were waiting for a bed and Cork University Hospital where 38 patients were on trolleys.

In Dublin, St Vincent’s University Hospital was the worst affected with 29 patients on trolleys in its ED alone with no figures for the numbers on trolleys in wards.

Health Minister Simon Harris yesterday said “no effort or resource is being spared”.

“We are entering a difficult few weeks and our health services are experiencing extra pressure because of the flu season,” he said.

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