Sunday 18 February 2018

Trolley crisis goes on as Varadkar warns flu levels have yet to peak

Health Minister Leo Varadkar
Health Minister Leo Varadkar
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Health Minister Leo Varadkar has warned that it will be another two weeks before levels of flu peak as the trolley crisis continues.

St Vincent's Hospital in Dublin, which was the worst hit hospital in the country for overcrowding yesterday, said "every available bed space" had to be brought into service as more than 50 patients endured lengthy waits on trolleys in its emergency department.

A hospital spokesman said it had also cancelled all non- urgent procedures for the next 24 hours due to the surge in patients.

Nationally the numbers on trolleys breached the 500 mark again yesterday morning.

Mr Varadkar, who yesterday briefed the Cabinet on the ongoing trolley crisis, said it would be another two weeks before the levels of flu circulating peak.

The flu was now a major driver behind emergency department congestion with the numbers of patients presenting for treatment up 10pc, he added.

The Cabinet was told that at-risk groups are being urged to get the flu vaccine.

Other measures, including using private hospitals to cater for patients on public waiting lists, offering more staff overtime and an increase in community intervention teams, are also being used to help alleviate the crisis.

Meanwhile, Junior Health Minister Kathleen Lynch announced that the 90 nursing homes across the country would benefit from badly needed upgrades or replacement under a €385m capital plan between now and 2021.

The improvements have been called for by Hiqa inspectors who have pointed to structural risks and out-dated living conditions in the old-style homes.

An extra 215 places will also be provided in north Dublin, Drogheda, Co Louth, and Ballyshannon, Co Donegal.

The original deadline set by Hiqa was July of last year but the funding was not available.

However, Tadhg Daly of Nursing Homes Ireland, which represents private homes, warned the current level of funding under the Fair Deal scheme needed to be improved.

"It is imperative the incoming government addresses the very serious issue and delivers a funding model that supports the majority providers of nursing home care - private and voluntary nursing homes."

Meanwhile, the new national maternity strategy to be launched today will see more emphasis on midwifery care options for low-risk pregnancies.

Irish Independent

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