RISING flu levels will impact on the number of Emergency Department attendances and admissions over the coming weeks, the HSE has warned.
The number of patents awaiting admission to a hospital bed stood at 236 people at 8am today compared to 514 people on the same day last year – a decrease of 54 per cent, according to figures from the Health authority. It is believed that the late arrival of the flu this season is behind the significant drop.
The figures from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), however show a total of 366 patients waiting on trolleys or in wards for admission to hospital on Wednesday morning.
The HSE said that while flu-like illness has not had a significant impact on numbers attending Emergency Departments to date, they are now seeing signs that flu levels are rising and say they expect this will impact on the number of attendances and admissions in the coming weeks.
According to the INMO’S TrolleyWatch survey, University Hospital, Limerick had the most patients waiting, with 32 on trolleys and 16 on wards, with a total of 48 patients.
University Hospital Galway was next at 30 patients, while St Luke’s hospital in Kilkenny and Letterkenny University Hospital each with a total of 26 patients waiting for beds.
The HSE said the number of patients attending Emergency Departments continues to increase year on year with 1.2 million attendances - an increase of 42,000 on the same time last year.
While the majority of patients who attend Emergency Departments receive treatment and are discharged home, 25-30% of patients need to be admitted for further treatment. By end November, 315,000 patients had been admitted from ED, 8,400 more than in 2017.
In December 2018 there was a 19% decrease in 8am trolley numbers compared to December 2017 .
The HSE said performance relating to trolleys from May 2018 to November was improved – but noted that comparison with quarter 2018 is skewed by the impact of a number of severe weather events.