Newborn spent 24 hours in A&E over bed shortage
A shortage of beds forced doctors in the main children's hospitals to keep 11 young patients - including a newborn baby - in its A&E for more than nine hours yesterday.
The worst hit was Temple St Hospital where nine children were cared for, some of them on trolleys, last night as it tried to cope with an influx of youngsters with infectious winter illnesses.
Two children faced long delays in transferring to a ward in Our Lady's Hospital in Crumlin.
A worried father, whose newborn son was in the A&E in Temple St for nearly 24 hours, said: "It's chaos in there."
He said the little boy, who was in a cot, has a "chest infection and is so young they cannot give him anything".
The ongoing high rates of respiratory and gastrointestinal infections among children this winter comes as the latest figures show 90 people of all ages have died from flu.
The virus is continuing to circulate at high levels and is only slowly waning.
A spokeswoman for Temple St said yesterday its emergency department was especially busy.
She said: "Given the time of year, the emergency department is also seeing an increase in patients, particularly very young children - under five years of age - and babies, with gastrointestinal and respiratory infections.
"Temple Street is asking parents to think about all their care and treatment options including their local family GP and the GP out-of-hours service before attending the emergency department."
However, she stressed that if a child is seriously ill or injured or a parent is worried that their life may be at risk, they should attend the hospital and "we will assess and treat your child as a priority".
She said: "In the meantime, Temple Street wishes to apologise to any families who may have an increased wait for their child to be admitted and to families whose children may have to have their scheduled surgery postponed at short notice.
"The hospital is making every effort to improve the situation."
Rotavirus is one of the highly infectious stomach bugs which strikes babies and young children.
Most children recover at home but nearly one in five will need to see their doctor.